Grain Valley coach Andy Herbert wouldn’t call it an eye-opener, even after his Eagles started the season with three straight wins. He wouldn’t call it a surprise either.
Just a thorough beating at the hands of a very good team.
“We knew what to expect; it doesn’t mean you’re ready for it,” Herbert said after Raytown South routed Grain Valley 75-45 Monday night at Ray-South. “They’re extremely talented, extremely athletic and when they make shots the way they did tonight, it’s tough.”
Grain Valley (3-1) was rolling, coming in off three convincing wins and a first-place finish in the Marshall Tournament. None of those teams, however, had the quickness or athleticism that have been Ray-South’s trademarks since the days of Bud Lathrop.
And Ray-South (2-0) put all that talent on display in the Suburban Small Seven opener for both teams. The Cardinals opened the game hitting 4 of 7 3-point shots and 8 of 15 overall. Their tight defense and quickness led to 19 Grain Valley turnovers and kept the Eagles from finding the back-door cuts that normally fuel their offense.
“There’s some things in that game that we just can’t control, but there were some things we can,” Herbert said. “And the things we could have controlled we didn’t control very well. But for the most part our kids competed and fought. We just have to do it a little bit smarter.”
Ray-South set the tone in the game’s opening minutes by hitting four long-range 3-pointers over the Eagles’ 2-3 zone. Mark Cann made three straight threes on his way to 21 points. Dezmond McKinney (14 points) made a layup off a steal and Raevon Carter (10 points) added another three.
The Cardinals ended the quarter with three transition baskets for a 20-7 lead.
“The way they got their threes, it wouldn’t have matter if it was man or zone,” Herbert said. “They were three feet behind the line with a hand in their face. We knew if they made shots it was going to be a hard game. And they made shots.
Grain Valley tried to counter with cuts to the basket, but Ray-South’s defensive pressure and the Eagles’ inability to hang on to the ball made that difficult. Josh Kilpatrick scored eight points in the second quarter that helped the Eagles closed within 31-19, but Ray-South ended the quarter with an 8-0 run and a 20-point lead.
Ray-South led 62-32 after three quarters and by as many as 32 points during a running-clock final period.
“We knew what we were going to get ourselves into playing them,” said Kilpatrick, who led Grain Valley with 21 points. “We prepared for them but they came out, they attacked us and we weren’t used to that type of stuff.”
Grain Valley continues Small Seven play Wednesday night when it plays host to Smithville. The Eagles won’t have to think about Ray-South until a Feb. 21 rematch at Grain Valley.
Herbert won’t dwell on them much more.
“It’s one game out of 25,” Herbert said. “You look at the film, you see what you can get better at, and then you move on.”
In Friday’s Marshall Tournament championship, Kilpatrick got an offensive rebound and a putback as time expired to lift the Eagles to a 50-49 win.
It was the only time Grain Valley led in the game.
“I’m really proud of how are kids battled,” Herbert said of Friday’s win. “We didn’t play particularly well, Kirksville had a lot to do with that. We kept grinding and hung together and did enough things well to pull it out. It’s never easy to win a tournament, and this was no exception.”
Kilpatrick finished with 20 points, Caden Matlon added 13 and Tristin Whitton had eight for the Eagles, who trailed 28-22 at halftime.