Keller gets outside help in Eagles' win
PLEASANT HILL, Mo. – Cole Keller was the most appreciative Grain Valley player on the court when sophomore Owen Herbert hit four 3-point baskets in the first half of their Pleasant Hill Invitational consolation game.
Keller, who had just two points in the first half, saw the Butler defense have to come out of the paint to guard Herbert and the rest of the Eagles, allowing him to take the game over.
The senior forward scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Eagles to a 62-52 win over Butler and a spot in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. fifth-place game against Odessa.
“Thank you Owen,” a grinning Keller said after the game. “They were all over me in the first half; I couldn’t do much of anything. Then my man Owen hit those 3-pointers and things really loosened up in the paint.
“We’re so young, and we’re getting better every game. This was a big win. We wanted to keep playing this tournament and now we get to play again Friday night.”
Herbert, the son of Eagles coach Andy Herbert, was all smiles after the Eagles (2-8) snapped an eight-game losing streak.
“We all know what Cole can do when he gets the ball inside,” said Herbert, who finished with 14 points. “It was big to get some shots from the outside. It was a different game the second half.”
Coach Herbert called his son and Keller, “Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside tonight. I was really happy we were able to open some things up for Cole inside that second half because he just took the game over.”
Grain Valley led 16-15 after one quarter and 31-29 at halftime. But a 14-9 advantage in the fourth quarter helped the Eagles pull away for the victory.
“We’re so young, and I’m so appreciative of having a strong senior leader like Cole who goes out of his way to encourage our younger players,” Andy Herbert added. “I love to see the smiles on all the kids’ faces – and our coaches’ faces – after a win like this.”