Sitting in the bleachers at Grain Valley High School, cheering for the Eagles girls basketball team in semifinals of the Grain Valley Sonic Showdown, T.J. Cosper and Cody Sanning look like a couple of average high school students.

Sitting in the bleachers at Grain Valley High School, cheering for the Eagles girls basketball team in semifinals of the Grain Valley Sonic Showdown, T.J. Cosper and Cody Sanning look like a couple of average high school students.
But that changes when they change – into their Eagles uniforms.
“They kind of personify the team,” Grain Valley coach Andy Herbert said, sporting a smile. “We’re not going to intimidate anyone with T.J. or our 6-foot-1 center (Sanning). But those two guys mean everything to this team.
“T.J. just ignites us, and Cody isn’t happy if he doesn’t get a double-double every night. And on a lot of nights, he’s out there going up against guys who have a 4- or 5-inch height advantage on him.
“We don’t have any superstars on this team. Just players like T.J. and Cody who would do anything we ask to help us get a win.”
In the first round of the Sonic Showdown on Tuesday, Cosper scored 10 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the third quarter to help the Eagles claim their biggest lead of the night (45-30). And Sanning scored 21 points and hauled down 11 rebounds to lead Grain Valley to a 62-45 victory over Odessa.
The 9-6 Eagles, who have won five in a row, play Pleasant Hill at 6 tonight in the tournament semifinals.
“I grew up watching this tournament,” said Cosper, who is averaging nearly 10 points a game. “I remember all the great teams coach (Randy) Draper had. And there was the game where we upset Paseo, and everyone went nuts.
“This is a big tournament for us. No one really expected us to do much in it, but no one really expected us to do much this season. And we’re trying to prove them all wrong.”
That’s an attitude that mirrors their coach.
“I think we were picked fourth in the conference in The Examiner (in a poll of the conference’s coaches),” Herbert said, “and I can see why. There weren’t many teams in the area that had more questions than we did before the season started.
“But now, we’re finding the answer to those questions and I really like what I see from the guys – night in and night out.”
Sophomore guard Derreon Parker said there is one reason the Eagles are enjoying a successful season.
“Hard work,” Parker said. “And Cody and T.J. set the tone – in the games and at practice. They’re our leaders. T.J. is our senior leader and Cody (a junior) leads by playing so hard. He wants that double-double. And most nights, he gets it.”
Sanning, who is averaging 12 points and 10 boards a game, has missed his goal just three times this season.
“When I don’t get it,” Sanning said, “it just makes me work that much harder the next game. Beating Odessa was just huge, because now, we’re in the semifinals of our own tournament.
“We want to play in the championship game on Saturday. And I think we can do it.”