With a talent like Grace Slaughter on the floor, Grain Valley doesn’t need balanced scoring. Just a balanced threat.
Slaughter is going to get her points, and on Tuesday night she racked up 28 in a 53-32 girls basketball victory at Fort Osage. No one else came close to double digits, and they didn’t have to. They just have to threaten to score, getting in positions where they can.
“We definitely knew everybody was going to have to step it up,” Slaughter said. “When everybody steps up – and we knew we had to come ready to play – it definitely makes it easier.”
Jordyn Weems filled the threat role nicely for Grain Valley (10-4). Weems scored only seven points, but she constantly drove the lane, drew fouls and made Fort Osage think of someone else besides Slaughter. And she helped contain Fort Osage guard Kiyley Flowers, who scored 17 points but had long droughts without a basket.
“We’ve always talked about playing to our strengths, and tonight was the best (Weems has) done at that,” Grain Valley coach Randy Draper said. “She got it and started catching it in places where she could hurt them a little bit. And when that happens that just gets Gracie open more.”
Grain Valley never trailed after jumping out to a 15-10 lead after the first quarter. Fort Osage (4-8) started the second quarter with quick baskets from Flowers and Sophia Cornett to pull within one, but the Eagles reeled off the next 11 points, eight of them on putbacks and layups by Slaughter.
“She’s great and she works ridiculously hard,” Draper said of Slaughter. “And everybody in the gym knows she’s going to get it. And that’s when you’re good. Everybody knows and you still get it done.”
Fort Osage made only 3 of 12 shots in the quarter and trailed 27-16 at the half. And most of those shots, Indians coach Lindsay Thompson said, were very makeable.
“We missed a lot of wide-open layups,” Thompson said. “That is a frustrating experience. At halftime, had we made even half of the layups that we missed it would have been a six-point game.”
Slaughter scored another 12 points in the third quarter as Grain Valley pulled away. Grain Valley led 42-25 going into the fourth quarter and held a 20-point advantage most of the fourth.
The win provided a nice bounce-back for Grain Valley after falling to Belton in last weekend’s Pleasant Hill Invitational final. The Eagles’ next game will also be a challenge – they play host to a Kearney team that beat them by 20 points last month.
“I love how much we’ve improved since that time, but they’re really, really good,” Draper said. “It’ll be a great test for us.”