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Keller's big game leads Eagles to rout

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Fort Osage's Trent Hogland, left, and Grain Valley's Owen Herbert and Cole Keller were among those named to the all-tournament team for the Grain Valley Sonic Showdown after Grain Valley defeated Fort Osage 71-36 in the third-place game Saturday.

It was one of those rare performances that you have to witness to truly appreciate.

Grain Valley senior forward Cole Keller scored 29 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and added four blocks, four steals and three assists to help the Eagles use a second-half surge to rout Fort Osage 71-36 Saturday in the third-place game of the 23rd annual Grain Valley Sonic Showdown.

“I think it goes without saying that Cole creates a matchup problem out there for most teams,” Eagles coach Andy Herbert said after his team won for the fourth time in its last six outings. “He’s so quick to the basket and he works so hard. After he missed last season (with a knee injury) we knew we’d come back strong this season, but he’s really taken his game to a new level.”

The Eagles (5-10) led the Indians just 15-13 after one quarter but turned up the defensive pressure in the second period to take a 30-23 lead into halftime.

“We wanted to come out strong in the third quarter, and we were able to do that,” Keller said. “And everyone contributed. The guys had to get me the ball inside, and when I passed it back out to them, they scored. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.”

A three-point play by Keller at 4:05 of the third quarter gave the Eagles their first double-digit lead of the game, 33-23. After that, it was all Eagles as they scored 26 points in the fourth quarter to earn the running clock.

Herbert’s son Owen, a sophomore guard, enjoyed one of his best games of the season as he finished with 17 points.

“Owen and all our guys really played hard tonight,” his coach and dad said. “We’ve won four of our last six and we are so much better now than we were at the start of the season. And I think we’re going to keep getting better.”

Josh Wilson peeked around the corner of the Eagles’ locker area and saw Keller being interviewed.

“What are you talking to that guy for?” quipped Wilson after his team fell to 4-8. “He didn’t do anything this afternoon.”

Wilson said he hopes someone rises to the occasion for his young team, much like Keller has done for the Eagles.

“All the credit in the second half goes to Grain Valley,” Wilson said. “They have something you just can’t replicate at practice – Keller and a lot of hard-working players who work hard for four quarters.

“We’re young and it’s been a learning process. We’re getting there, we’re a work in progress, and we are getting there.”

Trent Hogland led the Indians with 13 points and Arthur Wyatt added 10.

Keller, Herbert and Hogland were named to the all-tournament team along with St. Michael the Archangel's Deuce Roberts and Michael Haggerty.