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Eagles' Slaughter gets 1,000th point; Bears get win

By Bill Althaus
Grain Valley sophomore Grace Slaughter was joined by family members, from left, grandmother Brenda Cianciolo, her mom Becky and dad Brian Slaughter, after she scored her 1,000th career point in just her 41st career high school game. Slaughter leads the metro area with a 29.5 points-per-game average. Despite her 15 points, the Eagles fell 51-37 to William Chrisman.

William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer paid Jolee Spinks the ultimate compliment after his Bears remained undefeated in conference play.

“Jolee has earned a nap on the bus ride home,” Schaefer quipped after she climbed in Grace Slaughter’s back pocket and held the metro area’s leading scorer to 15 points in a 51-37 victory over the host Grain Valley Eagles Monday night.

“She’s one of our best defensive players because she takes so much pride in guarding our opponent’s best player. Grace is a tremendous player – she’s been averaging over 35 points a game her last few games and she did get her 1,000th career point tonight – but Jolee did a great job of keeping her from getting the ball down low.”

The Bears (13-5, 4-0 Suburban Middle Six) used a modified 2-3 defense, with a box-and-one hybrid to assure Spinks was guarding Slaughter the entire night.

“I hope we learned something tonight, and I think we did,” Eagles coach Randy Draper said. “We have to start hitting some threes to open things up inside for Grace inside. They can’t play that type of defense if they have to guard the perimeter.

“We saw a sneak peak of the future tonight when (freshman) Finley LaForge hit those three threes in the first quarter. I told her after the game that that’s something we need to expect, not be surprised by. And she agreed.”

When the subject turned to Slaughter, the veteran coach smiled, despite his team falling to 9-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play.

“She scores her 1,000th point in her 41st high school game,” Draper said, shaking her head. “When I played, I could have been left all alone in the gym and not scored 1,000 points in four years.

“She’s a hard worker, a great talent – and, most important, a great kid. You saw how thrilled all her teammates when she scored that 1,000th point.”

It came on a layup with 3:16 left in the second quarter. She needed five points to reach the milestone and that basket gave her 1,001.

“She is a tremendous player,” Schaefer said. “She’s fun to watch. She’s a lot more fun to watch when you’re not playing her team. But I was thrilled with our team’s approach tonight.”

The Bears’ approach drew rave reviews from Draper.

“That is a very, very good team,” Draper said. “Their coach is one of the best. There’s a reason he won his 600th (career victory) the other night. Those are the type of teams we need to play to get to where we want to be.”

For the second time this season, Slaughter has reached a milestone in an Eagles loss.

She also set the single-game scoring record of 45 points in a loss to Raytown.

“It’s like I told you, I’d trade that single-game scoring record or tonight’s 1,000th point for a win,” said Slaughter, who was given a 1,000-point cookie cake by teammate Ella Clyman’s mother after the game, along with several colorful posters fans held up after she surpassed her milestones.

“I’m just happy that my family and some of our fans were here tonight, because they made it extra special for me.”

When asked about Spinks, Slaughter grinned.

“She can play defense!” said Slaughter, who has already verbally committed to Missouri. “She made me work hard for everything tonight.”

Long after most of her teammates had left the locker room, Spinks emerged with teammate Jacque David, who scored a game-high 20 points.

“Coach Schaefer came up with the defense and told me to guard Grace and not let her get the ball,” said Spinks, who also added nine points. “I had to work so hard because she’s such a great player. I am going to take a nap on the drive back to Chrisman.”

Added David: “She earned it. Everyone loves Grace because she’s such a great kid and player, and Jolee really came to play tonight, and that was a big reason we were able to win the game.”

LaForge finished with 15 points on four 3-pointers and a layup – off an assist from Slaughter.

“We know we have to shoot better from the outside to open things up for Grace,” LaForge said. “We’re getting there. We got some threes tonight, but we need to get more. Grace has done so much for our team all season, now it’s time we step it up and help her.”