Prep basketball roundup: Garmon, late surge lift Eagles to another win

By The Examiner staff

The Grain Valley boys basketball team is heading into Wednesday’s regular season finale and Saturday’s district opener with some momentum.

Thanks to strong defense late and the hot shooting of sophomore guard Avery Garmon, the Eagles rallied for a 53-44 victory over host Belton in their Suburban Middle Six finale Tuesday night.

That came on the heels of an 53-51 upset win over Truman on Saturday.

Trailing 39-32 entering the fourth quarter, Grain Valley outscored the Pirates 21-5 to claim the victory and improve to 8-13 overall and finish 4-6 in the conference.

Garmon, who also had four assists, sank 5 of 7 3-pointers and all six of his free throws to finish with 21 points and support another big game by senior forward Cole Keller. Keller amassed 18 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and three assists. Owen Herbert added 10 points.

While playing stronger defense, the Eagles also made all eight of their free throws in the final minute and finished 10 of 11 from the line.

“We got more organized defensively in the fourth quarter,” Eagles coach Andy Herbert said. “Avery was tremendous tonight. He has the ability to make shots in bunches and tonight he believed they were going in. … Our guys have believed in the process all year and we’re finally seeing some of the benefits of that.”

LIBERTY 73, BLUE SPRINGS 60: Blue Springs has normally responded to rallies by its opponents this season.

But the Wildcats had no answer for visiting Liberty in the second half Tuesday as the Blue Jays used a 22-13 third-quarter surge to take control and claim a Suburban Big Eight win.

“Give a ton of credit to Liberty tonight. They played a great game in the second half,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said. “We didn’t do a very good job responding to their charges in the third quarter. Disappointing way to end the regular season. Our team has responded to these situations all season. We expect to do the same the rest of this week getting ourselves ready for district play.”

Despite the loss that snapped a six-game win streak, the Wildcats (17-5, 10-4 Big Eight) enter next week’s Class 6 District 14 tournament as the No. 1 seed. They await the winner of Saturday’s game between Grain Valley and Lee’s Summit North in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.  

Liberty erased Blue Springs’ 19-14 first-quarter lead and tied it at 31 at halftime. The Blue Jays then outscored the Wildcats 42-29 in the second half.

Ike Ezeogu tallied 16 points to lead the Wildcats. Eli Wingert added 13, Kyle Bruce had 12 and Mike Harrison 10, but Liberty held leading scorer Braden Appelhans to just one field goal and seven total points.

Luke Stubbs fired in 22 and Bennett Stirtz added 15 to lead Liberty (20-3, 12-1), which has won eight straight.

PARK HILL 67, BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH 38: After putting together a three-game win streak, Blue Springs South has suffered a pair of big losses, including Tuesday’s defeat to visiting Park Hill.

The Jaguars never recovered after a 16-11 deficit after the first quarter and dropped to 11-10 overall and 8-5 in the Suburban Big Eight.

“We got throttled again tonight – on our home court for the second straight game,” Jaguars coach Josh Smith said. “Simply put, we didn’t show a whole lot of pride or mental toughness and we didn’t really compete all that hard, which is extremely disappointing.”

Sonny McCreary scored 17 points to lead the Jaguars, who are missing senior forward Devin Tomlinson, the team’s leading scorer. Ty Mauck added eight points and Quinton Robertson had seven.

Christian Bradford tallied 14 points and Nyk Bryant had 12 to lead the Trojans (16-3, 10-2).

WINNETONKA 75, OAK GROVE 31: Oak Grove fell behind 33-15 at halftime and couldn’t make up the difference in a loss to host Winnetonka in its regular season finale.

"More than anything, tonight was about shotmaking. Winnetonka hit quite a few shots we were comfortable with them taking, which is a credit to them,” Panthers coach Dustin Fox said. “Their size and athleticism took us out of our rhythm a little bit offensively, but we also missed some quality looks that we were happy with. The reps we got last night were valuable for us going into facing an athletic Knob Noster team in district play on Saturday."

Silas Hicks totaled nine points and five rebounds to pace Oak Grove (4-15), which lost its last two after three straight wins.

Girls

OAK GROVE 47, WINNETONKA 25: Mackenzie Mann’s big game and a strong start helped propel Oak Grove to a second straight win Tuesday.

The Panthers, after beating Warrensburg 45-35 Monday, jumped to a 17-6 lead after one quarter and extended it to 33-11 by halftime in Tuesday’s win over the host Griffins.

Mann amassed a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds to power the Panthers (9-9). Destiny Valentine added 13 and Kealyn Wilkinson chipped in seven.

Valentine had 14 points Monday to lead the Panthers to the 45-35 win over Warrensburg. Oak Grove led 15-11 after one quarter and slowly built the advantage from there.

Mann tallied 10 points, Makenna Gray added nine points and 12 rebounds and Wilkinson had seven points.

KANSAS CITY CHRISTIAN 53, VAN HORN 51: Despite a balanced attack, Van Horn dropped a Crossroads Conference game in overtime at Kansas City Christian Tuesday.

Rhiannon Blackburn tallied 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead Van Horn, which finished the regular season 3-17 overall and 2-4 in the conference.

Lexi Robinson, who surpassed the 1,000-point milestone for her career in Monday’s 54-34 loss to Bishop Ward, added 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. Erika Parrish had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five steals and Emari Smith had 11 rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

Van Horn plays at Winnetonka at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Class 5 District 14 opener.