The undefeated Grain Valley boys basketball team stepped on the court, right into the heads of visiting Platte County Monday.
The Eagles used a 9-0 first-quarter run en route to a 66-39 non-conference rout of the Pirates.
Grain Valley coach Andy Herbert believes that defense is the foundation for any great team, and his team is buying what the coach is selling. The Eagles scored 21 points off 23 turnovers on their home court.
“Coach told us to take it to them early, and we did,” said senior guard/forward Andru Garrett, who thrilled the rowdy student section with a third-quarter slam dunk and finished with 13 points. “When I moved here (from Blue Springs) Coach told me we’d won on offense in the summer, but once the season started, all we were going to work on was defense – and he was right.
“We got so many of our early points off turnovers and had that big lead after the first quarter.”
Combine defense with court smarts, depth and talent and you have a 7-0 Eagles team that is ready to play their final game of 2017 calendar year at 7 tonight in Harrisonville.
“We got that 23-10 lead in the first quarter because of our defense,” said a smiling Herbert. “Everything we teach this team, everything, they respond to.
“Some teams don’t like to play defense. This group does. When we took the early lead, most of our points came off turnovers, and with the style we play, we going to get a lot of points off our defense and the guys are really buying into that.”
For the Eagles, it seems like every night there is a new scoring leader. Monday night, it was 6-foot-4 forward Josh Kilpatrick, who led Grain Valley with 24 points and eight rebounds.
“This team is so deep, has so much depth,” said Kirkpatrick, who also dished out four assists. “And the best thing is that no one is playing for personal stats, they’re just playing good, solid basketball. I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a team with this much depth and confidence.”
Herbert calls it a dream scenario.
“We feel like on any given night, someone can step up and take a game over, we have that much depth,” Herbert said. “And that’s so much fun for the team, our fans and the coaches. This is like a dream team because the guys work so hard and – at least, so far this season – all the hard work is paying off.”
The Eagles took a 35-22 lead into halftime, then slowed the game down in the third quarter, allowing just 17 second-half points to the Pirates.
“We were working on moving the ball around, things like that,” Kirkpatrick said. “Coach was really happy with the way we played all phases of the game. And we like to make Coach Herbert happy.”
Deiondre Ragsdale led the Pirates with 13 points.