Grain Valley boys basketball coach Andy Herbert was watching senior guard Caden Matlon warm up before Tuesday night’s home contest against Fort Osage.
“I was watching Caden and I kind of thought to myself, ‘I’ve seen that look before – this could be one of those special nights.’ And I guess I was right.”
Matlon hit his first two 3-pointers, scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 36 as the Eagles held off the Indians in a physical and wildly entertaining 71-66 victory.
“We played so hard, there was no way we were going to let them come back in the fourth quarter and win this game,” Matlon said after visiting with friends and family members. “Coach Herbert was right, I was feeling it before the game and I was feeling it during the game – especially in the first quarter.
“I felt like every shot I put up I was going to hit, and Josh (Kilpatrick) had his usual big game. This was just a fun night. It was a hard-fought, physical game and I love games like that – especially when we win.”
Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson was happy with his team despite the loss.
“This was one of those rare games where you just enjoyed being a part of it, even though we lost,” Indians coach Josh Wilson said after his team fell to 4-7. “We didn’t have an answer for Matlon tonight and Kilpatrick had a big game, too.
“But I was so happy with the way our guys kept fighting. Late in the game they had that 10-point lead (65-55 with 2:43 left on a 3-point basket by Kilpatrick), but we worked hard and cut it to four points.
“I think this could develop into a great rivalry with Grain Valley. I have so much respect for Andy and his kids play hard. Every time we play each other it’s a pretty good game.”
Herbert agreed, adding, “I think we’re working on creating a great rivalry. Josh’s kids work hard and he has done so many great things with that program. When you play Josh’s kids you better come ready to play because you know you’re going to be in for a battle.”
Matlon set the early tone, while Kilpatrick scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half.
“Caden came out and was just on fire,” Kilpatrick said. “I think he hit every shot he took in the first quarter and he shot the ball really well the entire game. And I finally found my shot in the second half, and it’s hard to guard two players who were shooting it like Caden and I were tonight.
“And our teammates were doing a great job of getting us the ball. And if we were guarded, they did a great job of getting open so we could pass the ball back to them.”
The Eagles led 16-15 after one period and 31-28 at halftime. Grain Valley took a 48-44 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Indians weren’t about to concede defeat.
Miles Dunfield came off the bench to score 14 points, including six in the fourth quarter. Post Triston Turner came alive in the second half and scored 19 points and guard Braden Pottberg scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.