Big spurts were non-existent in Maryville's latest showdown with cross-county foe Jefferson Thursday night.
With both teams struggling to replace key offensive pieces from last year, neither one could muster a run of more than six straight points at a time.
It made for a stagnant game where the Lady Hounds maintained constant leads of two possessions or more, but never fully put Jefferson out of reach.
Ultimately, the Lady Hounds received enough of a second half offensive push from senior Blair Twaddle and junior Gabby Church to hold off Jefferson for a 41-34 win Thursday night at MHS Gymnasium.
Twaddle and Church combined for 20 of the team's 21 second half points and finished with 11 apiece.
"I thought Gabby was doing a great job," said Maryville head coach Grant Hageman. "She was the benefit of some great interior passing and it was fun to watch our post players work together. I love that. Blair is clutch. She's our go-to scorer on most nights. She hit a lot of big shots. When we needed offense, she provided it and that's what Blair's got to do. She did a great job tonight."
Twaddle scored eight third quarter points and hit a three with five seconds left in the period to give Maryville a 31-23 lead. It reached double-digits for the first time on a bank shot by Church to open the fourth.
Jefferson scored the next two baskets to make it 33-27, but the Hounds countered with six straight on a three-point play by Church, a drying layup by Twaddle and a Twaddle free throw to go up 12 with 3:46 left.
This was their largest lead of the game.
A three-pointer by Sarah Kemper in the final minute—Jefferson's only one of game—brought the Eagles within seven with 37 seconds left. Kemper missed on two later three-point attempts to cut it to four.
"I think we had some opportunities," said Jefferson head girls basketball coach Tyler Pedersen. "This game is on our schedule to make us better and Maryville year in and year out executes their offense. They do what they do very well. Whenever you can get away and feel like you competed, there's a good chance you're going to learn something from a game like that."
The loss was Jefferson's second straight and dropped the Eagles to 4-4 on the year.
They were missing starting guard Ashley Chor who is sitting out with a torn labrum.
Senior forward Jill Henry played strong inside to finish with a team-high 11 points. Shanna Welch (eight points), Danae Schieber (seven points) and Kemper (five points) provided most of the scoring from the guard spots.
Page 2 of 3 - Jefferson didn't make a three until the final minute and was just 7-14 from the foul line, missing four straight near the end of the second quarter.
"Our rotations are shortened a little bit and whenever you're out there playing and chasing a team that executes real well offensively, you're not going to have the legs for your shots," said Pedersen. "We just have to concentrate on getting in better shape. We'll get healthy as the season goes and we'll go from there."
Maryville won for the second straight time following four straight defeats to open the year.
The Hounds (2-4) hit four three's on the night, finishing plus-nine in that department. Their best quarter was the first in which they outscored Jefferson 9-4.
"I thought early in the first half we executed really well," said Hageman. "I felt like we were getting some really good shots in the offense, and I think we shot a pretty high percentage. Defensively, I thought we had times where we played great, then we'd have moments where our defense was below average. For the most part, we played hard on defense. I thought we rebounded well, so I think that kind of kept them at bay a little bit."
Jefferson's only lead of the game was 1-0 on an early free throw by Brooklyn Stoll.
The Hounds scored the next five points on a three by Cassie Holtman and a jumper by Ann Coleman to gain a lead they never gave up.
Three times in the second quarter the Hounds held leads of seven points. It slipped to three before a basket by Church and a three by Chelsea Byland put the Hounds up 20-12.
Henry scored in the final minute to cut Maryville's halftime lead to 20-14.
Jefferson made it a four-point game early in the third quarter on a steal and score by Kemper. She missed a three on the next trip that would've cut it to one.
Twaddle scored the next five points and hit a three to spread Maryville's lead to nine.
Jefferson returned the deficit to four with a 5-0 run and Schieber had a jumper rim out to make it a two-point game.
After a free throw by McMichael, the Hounds led by at least five the rest of the way.
"We had a lot of bright spots tonight, but there are still stretches where we get away from the plan and the offense looks really forced," said Hageman. "We got to still work on taking better shots and things like that, but it's improved. Like we told the girls, it's going to be a process this year to get to the point where we play our best basketball. We're following that process so far."
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