Cole Keller grabbed his 14th rebound and threw a perfect outlet pass to Kevin Gutierrez, who stepped behind the 3-point arc and hit nothing but net on his lone 3-point attempt of the game.
That gave Grain Valley a 45-38 lead with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter of a Class 5 District 14 first-round game Monday night at Truman High School.
Following the shot, Eagles coach Andy Herbert turned to his assistants and said, “We’re going to win this game.”
He was right, as the Eagles – playing their first season in the Suburban Conference and their first in Class 5 – claimed one of the biggest wins in the storied history of the program as they held Blue Springs without a point in the fourth quarter of a 55-38 district victory.
“This is the first time Grain Valley has beaten Blue Springs in basketball,” Grain Valley activities director Brandon Hart said. “This is a huge win. It’s a big deal for Andy and his kids, and I’m happy so many of our fans were here to see it.”
The fifth-seeded 16-10 Eagles advance to the semifinals and will play top-seeded Blue Springs South at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Herbert said the best part of the Eagles’ convincing victory over coach Adam Jones’ 7-19 Wildcats was the way his team played.
“It was a team win – everyone contributed,” Herbert said. “We got the job done all 32 minutes, and it was fun to watch – and even more fun to coach.”
Keller, a sophomore center, finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots; junior forward Josh Kilpatrick led all scorers with 20 points and added 6 boards; Gutierrez, a senior guard, scored seven of his 15 points in the deciding fourth quarter; junior guard Caden Matlon had eight rebounds and four assists; and junior guard Gavin Oyler added three rebounds, three assists and a bloody nose that was quickly taken care of so he could rejoin his teammates back on the court.
“There goes my modeling career,” joked Oyler, who broke his nose earlier this season. “But I’ll trade a bloody nose for a win anytime, especially a win like this.”
Gutierrez, who followed his dramatic 3-pointer with two layups, added, “We knew we had to step up our game in the fourth quarter, and we were able to do it. But I don’t think any of us knew we shut them out in the fourth quarter until the game was over.”
Keller said he will never forget the moment the game ended.
“We proved a lot to a lot of people who didn’t believe in us, who didn’t think we should be on the same court with a Blue Springs basketball team,” Keller said. “This win is special. We’ll never forget it.”
Kilpatrick agreed, adding, “We knew if we played together we could get a big win like this. And it was a great team win. Cole grabbed every offensive and defensive board, Kevin was all over the court and Caden and Gavin did all the things you need to do to win. We proved tonight we can play with the big boys.”
Jones lavished praise on the Eagles following the tough loss.
“I’ve known Andy a long time and I love the guy,” Jones said, “but I would have loved to have beaten him tonight, too. His kids played a great game, especially in the fourth quarter. They just wanted it more than our guys did tonight.”
Herbert praised his good friend and coaching peer, adding, “Adam does a great job with his team. We just put together four great quarters of basketball tonight, and we’re going to have to do that again Thursday against Blue Springs South.”
Najee Williams led the Wildcats with 10 points.