While the temperature dipped to the teens, the Grain Valley girls basketball team turned up the heat on visiting William Chrisman to claim a 56-51 non-conference home victory Monday night.
The Eagles forced turnovers on the Bears' last five possessions to score the final eight points of the game.
“We had to have at least 30 turnovers,” Bears coach Lindsay Thompson said. “And it wasn't like they were pressing us – they just played very good defense and we didn't respond. I didn't see any energy at our last practice Saturday, and I didn't see any energy tonight.”
The 4-0 Eagles provided enough energy to light every Christmas tree in Grain Valley as Darby Scharfenkamp scored four straight points to give Grain Valley a 48-45 lead it never relinquished at 5:45 of the fourth quarter.
Tori Squiers then grabbed an offensive rebound and put in a layup to give Grain Valley a 50-47 lead. Moments later, coach Randy Draper put in a four-corner offense that featured two freshmen – Claire Rose and Kendyll Bailey.
“I knew they could handle the pressure,” Draper said of the youngest players on the court. “It was fun watching the girls do just what we'd talked about in practice and during our timeout. They were just about perfect out there.”
With 1:27 on the clock, senior forward Sarah Turner saw an opening to the basket and hit a layup to give the Eagles a five-point lead.
“I knew if I hit the layup it would be great,” she said, smiling. “But if I missed it, well, it wouldn't be that good. We're only supposed to shoot in those situations if we know we can make it.”
Following the third Chrisman turnover, she hit another layup and Bailey capped the win by scoring the final basket.
“This is our first home game, and I didn't know what it would be like to play in front of the student section (which fills an entire bleacher in the gym),” said Bailey, who finished with 10 points. “I'm used to playing in the eighth grade gym and no one is there.
“I was pretty nervous before the game, but I feel great now.”
So does Rose, who said, “We did a good job running out the clock at the end of the game. We were patient and got the job done. It was a lot louder in here than I thought it would be. It was a great atmosphere, and I'm glad we won our first home game.”
Scharfenkamp and Bailey led the Eagles with 10 points each and Turner added nine.
Chrisman's Haley Rodriguez and Adreon Bell led all scorers with 14 points each.
“We need to play better than we played tonight,” Thompson said as the 2-3 Bears collected their gear for a quiet bus ride back to Independence. “It was a tough night in the office for the Bears.”