A series of unlikely events led to an unlikely comeback.
A shoeless player saving the ball, a free throw that bounced four times off the rim before dropping in and a buzzer-beater all helped Grain Valley overcome a 23-point deficit more than halfway through the third quarter to beat rival Oak Grove 65-63 Friday.
“That was something,” said Grain Valley head coach Andy Herbert, whose team improved to 6-4, “wasn’t it? We talked about ‘keep going with the process.’ Continue one step at a time, and don’t worry about the score, and just keep playing the right way. Rarely does that happen, but if you go through the process the right way long enough, the sun shines on you.”
After Cole Keller knocked down a pair of free throws to give Grain Valley a 63-60 lead with 17.9 seconds left, T.J. Boyd, who replaced Brenden Marsh after fouling out, canned a trey from the left corner to tie the game with six seconds left.
Kevin Gutierrez brought the ball up the floor and found Keller, who had 15 points on the night, and when Keller’s shot bounced off the rim, Josh Kilpatrick tipped it in before the buzzer, capping off a 27-10 fourth-quarter run.
“We were originally supposed to get to the corner,” Kilpatrick said, “and we were grateful enough to get it to our post in the paint. I just followed and put it up there, tipped it.”
Oak Grove coach Ty Hames gave Grain Valley credit for the comeback.
“It really turned into a great high school basketball game,” Hames said. “You’ve got to give Grain Valley a lot of credit for coming back. We have never lost a game where we were up over 20 points in the third quarter since I’ve been the head coach here.”
Kilpatrick hit a couple of other key shots, tallying 18 points. More than halfway through the fourth quarter, Caden Matlon jogged back to the shoe he lost out of bounds, not knowing a pass was coming to him. At the last second, he turned, caught the ball with one foot inbounds, and fired a one-handed pass across the court to Gutierrez, which turned into a Kilpatrick 3-pointer to pull the Eagles within 57-51.
With 1:16 left, he knocked down another from to top of the key to get Grain Valley within 58-57.
“We really passed the ball as one, as a team,” Kilpatrick said, “got open shots when we needed them. We moved the ball and got a win against a really, really good team.”
Oak Grove built their lead with Trey Bryant down low and outside shooting around him. Bryant scored 16 points, 10 of them in the third quarter on put-backs that helped the Panthers mount a 22-2 run to open the second half to open up the 48-25 advantage.
“He’s been really working at that, getting his body in shape,” Hames said. “He’s hard to move and he’s got a soft touch.”
Tully Thompsen led all scorers with 19 points for Oak Grove and Marsh added 14.
Bryant got in foul trouble in the first quarter, picking up two fouls in the quarter, and earned his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter.
“We’re not real deep,” Hames said, “so our foul trouble is an issue. So we have to be able to play through that, and we’re up 20 at home, there’s no reason you should ever lose a game, and we just have to be more knowledgeable and savvy with knowing time and score, and that’s what it came down to.”
OAK GROVE 39, GRAIN VALLEY 27: In the second half of the girls’ game, Oak Grove forward Lilli Weir scored 18 of her team’s 23 points, taking defenders on one-on-one in the paint and putting back missed shots, leading the Panthers to a win over Grain Valley.
Weir broke the 25-all tie early in the fourth quarter with a hook shot, then extended the lead to 29-25 after grabbing two offensive rebounds with 4:52 to play.
After Grain Valley (4-5) out-rebounded the Panthers 18-15 in the first half, it was all Oak Grove in the fourth quarter, as it collected 14 of the 18 rebounds in crunch time.
Kendra Sibert gave the Eagles a 20-16 lead at the break, scoring nine before halftime, but free-throw shooting hurt Grain Valley. The Eagles made only eight of their 21 attempts, missing eight of them in the second half.