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Slaughter's school record can't save Eagles

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Grain Valley sophomore guard Grace Slaughter, right, goes up for a contested shot against Raytown defender Amani Henry (24) in Thursday's conference game at Raytown. Slaughter poured in a school-record 45 points but it wasn't enough as the host Blue Jays claimed a 74-56 win.

Grace Slaughter had a bit of extra motivation heading into Thursday night’s Suburban Middle Six Conference game at Raytown.

The sophomore all-state guard dedicated the game to her grandfather, John Cianciolo, who passed away Jan. 4 after a lengthy illness.

“Before every game I pray with my mom, and dedicate the game to God and my family, and tonight I dedicated it to my Grampster, too,” Slaughter said. “I know he had the best seat in the house.”

Grampster Cianciolo and the socially distanced crowd at Raytown High School saw something special as Slaughter scored a school-record 45 points, breaking Claire Rose’s previous mark of 43, which she scored against Grandview her senior year.

But Slaughter’s big night wasn’t enough to get past a balanced Blue Jay attack as Raytown claimed a 74-56 victory.

Slaughter scored 13 in the first quarter, 10 in the second, eight in the third and 14 in the final frame. 

“It would mean a lot more to me if we would have won the game,” Slaughter said, “but it means so much to me because this is the first game I’ve played since Grampster died. I know he’s watching and I know he’s smiling.”

So was Grandma Brenda and her mother and father, Becky and Mark Slaughter, as their daughter got some star treatment after her record-breaking performance.

An amicable security guard asked all fans to leave the courtyard area outside of the Raytown gymnasium because of COVID-19 restrictions, but when he saw Slaughter walk from the locker room to meet her grandmother and parents, he smiled and said, “Young lady, after what you did tonight, you stay in here where it’s warm and do as long of an interview as you want.”

Grain Valley's Gabbi Keim (43) has her path to the basket blocked by Raytown's Kaylani Hoskin, back, in Thursday's game. Raytown went on to a 74-56 victory.

After a brief hug from mom and grandma, Slaughter talked about her big night.

“I’ll be honest with you, most nights I can go back and talk about every shot I take, but tonight, it was just all kind of a blur,” Slaughter, who has already verbally committed to Missouri, said as Grandma Brenda and Slaughter’s mother listened to every word. “I felt like I was in a zone, and felt confident every time I shot the ball. And Raytown is such a quick, athletic team. We need to learn from this so we’ll be ready next time we play them.”

Her coach Randy Draper was a ready spectator too.

Grain Valley's Grace Slaughter (33) puts up a left-handed shot over Raytown's Kaylani Hoskin in Thursday's game at Raytown. Slaughter fired in a school-record 45 points but the Eagles suffered a 74-56 loss.

“Well, that’s a school record for Grace and she was something to watch tonight,” Draper said. “Watching her is fun, coaching her is even better. Now, we need to find a way to get her a little help.

“Raytown has that speed you can’t duplicate at practice and I thought our kids were intimidated out there tonight – and that’s good because we can learn from what happened.”

Raytown’s Im’Unique White connected on four third-quarter 3-pointers to lead the Blue Jays with 18 points. Kaylani Hoskin, Victoria Jones and Summer Yancy scored 12 points each for the well-balanced Blue Jays.

“They’re tough to stop when they’re that evenly balanced,” Draper said. “We have some work to do, and I know our girls are eager to get back in the gym tomorrow.”

Grain Valley's Jordyn Weems, left, puts up a shot under pressure from Raytown defender Gladys Brown in Thursday's game at Raytown. The host Blue Jays captured a 74-56 win.