Grain Valley stumbles late in semifinals of its own tournament
Grain Valley boys basketball coach Andy Herbert said his team can’t afford to waste possessions.
And the Eagles can’t afford to be overconfident.
A combination of both was enough to let a close game with conference rival Pleasant Hill get away in the semifinals of the Grain Valley Sonic Showdown Thursday night.
Grain Valley kept itself in contention for a berth in Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game until the final two minutes, only to see the Roosters pull away for a 53-41 victory at Grain Valley High School.
The loss came on the heels of a 55-49 win over Pleasant Hill last week. Junior forward Cody Sanning said that may have been the trouble.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Sanning, who led the Eagles with 15 points and eight rebounds. “We came into this thinking this was ours after the last game. But I think we got big heads and got ahead of ourselves.
“We’re looking forward to playing them again in conference. We’ve got to keep our heads up after this.”
Herbert said his team played hard but lost something in the details Thursday. As a consequence, the Eagles’ five-game winning streak came to a halt.
“I didn’t feel like we did all the little things,” Herbert said after his team fell to 9-7 and into the third-place game against Winnetonka or Lincoln Prep at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. “They got almost all the loose balls, we gave up the ball some and gave up some offensive rebounds, and those things can’t happen.
“We’ve got to finish plays. We’d been doing that the last five games, but we didn’t do it today.”
Still, the Eagles managed to keep it close until the final few minutes. But two key plays put the Roosters over the top.
Grain Valley trailed just 37-35 when Clint Ederer stepped to the free-throw line. He missed both shots, but Aaron Roach made a diving save for an offensive rebound going out of bounds and found Logan Fischer as he was falling. Fischer banked in a shot, was fouled and sank the free throw to make it 40-35.
Jake Talamonte, who finished with 11 points, sank a 3-pointer with 3:22 left to pull the Eagles within two again. Roach, though, hit a bank shot and Dustin Mounce pushed the dagger deeper with a 3-point swish with 2:13 remaining. Mounce then twisted it by sinking six straight free throws to put it out of reach.
“The offensive rebound where they scored and got the foul and that 3-pointer were the two big plays that turned it around for them,” Herbert said. “They came at a bad time for us.”
So did turnovers. The Eagles seemed to be taking control midway through the second period with some strong offensive rebounding. But the Eagles committed 10 of their 21 turnovers in the period to erase a chance to grab the lead.
“We started getting rushed,” Sanning said. “We got ahead of ourselves and didn’t slow it down. Those turnovers cost us.”
Sanning and T.J. Cosper had four points each in an 8-2 run to give the Eagles a 32-30 lead with 1:27 left in third quarter.
But a lapse on the boards allowed Pleasant Hill to take the lead for good. After Fischer sank a 3-pointer, consecutive putback baskets by Ederer and Chris Kemerling put the Roosters ahead 37-32 early in the final quarter.
Pleasant Hill, while holding Eagles’ leading scorer Derreon Parker to six points, had all five starters scored at least eight. Mounce and Ederer each finished with 11 points, Fischer had 10, Roach totaled nine and Kemerling had eight.