Grace Slaughter is going to get her points, but the Grain Valley freshman is also going to get double- and triple-teamed a lot. Good thing she doesn’t mind sharing the ball.
It’s no secret that Slaughter is one of the top girls basketball talents in the Kansas City area, and that means every team the Eagles face is going to have players draped over her. And when they do, Slaughter must kick it out to an open player or someone who can help move the ball around and get her open.
Winnetonka tried to stifle Slaughter Thursday night, but Grain Valley moved the ball well enough to help her score 26 points and take control early for a 53-28 Suburban Small Seven victory in the Eagles’ first game of 2020 at Grain Valley.
For most of the game, Grain Valley coach Randy Draper said, the Eagles did just what they needed – and will need – to do when faced with teams like Winnetonka.
“There were times in that game when I thought our ball movement was awesome,” Draper said. “But there times we got into sticking it a little bit and it didn’t fly. And we’re just not as good.”
Slaughter, a 6-foot-1 point guard, scored 14 points in the first quarter, when Grain Valley (6-2, 3-1 Small Seven) scored the first nine points of the game en route to a 22-7 lead. She scored a couple of baskets after three or four passes. She found open players for back-door cuts as she was double-teamed inside, and she got herself open for a 3-pointer.
“I feel like the quicker we can look at everyone else on the team and our spacing, that helps to get other girls open,” said Slaughter, who went 10 of 19 from the field (4 of 7 from 3-point range) before Draper emptied his bench in the third quarter. “As long as we can keep moving it, I feel like I can trust everyone on my team.”
Slaughter popped two threes from the same spot on the floor in the second quarter and added an and-one with a steal and a layup before halftime. Winnetonka (3-4, 0-2) had 15 of its 21 turnovers by halftime and trailed 34-13.
And when Slaughter, who is averaging 23 points a game, managed only one three in the third quarter, it really didn’t matter even when Grain Valley wasn’t moving the ball as well. Ella Clyman, who finished with 11 points, scored off a Slaughter assist under the basket and was one of four Eagles to score in the period. Grain Valley led 48-18 going into the fourth quarter and by as many as 32 points during the running-clock final period.
“If we’re unselfish, we’ll score,” Draper said. “What’s nice is as many points as Grace scores, she’s a very unselfish player. The ball will move and when we get it moving, it’s pretty fun to watch.”
Grain Valley will try to keep the fun going when it plays host to Smithville Monday in a key Small Seven matchup.