Since reaching the Class 3 quarterfinals in 2010, big-time wins have eluded the Spoofhound boys basketball program, often by narrow margins.
At the outset of February, the 2012-13 team changed the narrative on that front.
A lights-out shooting performance from Jonathan Baker and an all-around exemplary offensive game by the Hounds allowed them to break thorough against high-quality competition Friday for a 64-57 win over Class 4 No. 10-ranked Smithville at MHS Gymnasium.
Playing at home for the first time in over three weeks, the Hounds built as much as a 16-point second half lead and held off a furious fourth quarter comeback bid from the Warriors who got as close as two points.
Maryville got a key stop with under two minutes left and made eight consecutive free throws in the final 49.2 seconds to lock up the victory.
The Hounds improved to 15-6 overall and evened their MEC record at 2-2. Smithville dropped to 15-5 overall and 2-1 in the MEC.
"Maybe the biggest win we've had since our 2010 team," said Maryville head boys basketball coach Mike Kuwitzky. "This is in that category of big wins for the program."
The statement win came three nights after the Hounds were held to their lowest point total of the year in a 48-35 road loss to Bishop LeBlond.
Back in the comforts of their home gym for only the fourth time all season, the Hounds responded with arguably their best offensive game of the year considering the competition.
Maryville shot 24-44 (.545) from the field, 17-18 at the foul line and made seven three-pointers—a virtually unbeatable combination.
The Hounds hit over 50 percent of their shots in each of the first three quarters, and even a few of their rare misses led to putbacks.
Most of their empty possessions throughout the game were a result of turnovers.
"Boys had energy, boys executed, boys played with purpose," said Kuwitzky. "We just played with energy and that's what it was because everything we ran worked. We got back on defense. We didn't give up a lot of transition points and we executed our offense and made shots."
Baker was the ring leader behind Maryville's offense resurrection.
An All-State quarterback who recently committed to Northwest Missouri State, Baker poured in a career-high 34 points and went over 1,000 for his career once he got to 30 in the fourth quarter.
He did it by going a machine-like 10-13 from the field, 4-5 from three and making all 10 of his free throw attempts.
"It's one of those things where you feel it, you play it by ear and you take it quarter by quarter," said Baker. "My teammates did a great job of seeing me in open spots and a lot of credit goes to them. Luckily, I knocked down a lot of shots when I was open."
Kuwitzky felt it was the best game of Baker's career. Smithville coach Chad Jones heaped further praise upon the All-MEC guard.
"Jonathan Baker is just a great competitor," said Jones. "He just knows how to win whether it's on the football field or a basketball court. That's the kind of kid you want on your team. Tremendous effort by him tonight. He just looked like he wasn't going to let them lose. We've seen great players whether it's the Jewell Tournament or our own schedule. Tonight was as good of a performance as we've seen. We couldn't find anybody to guard him."
Baker made seven of his 10 field goals in the second half and all three of Maryville's in the fourth quarter.
Along with his sweet shooting touch that produced four three's, Baker punished Smithville inside throughout the second half with his improved post-up game.
Four separate times, Baker caught the ball on the block, backed his man in and powered up for an easy deuce off the glass.
"Coach recognized that I've developed my (post game) a little more than last year, so we wanted to utilize that," said Baker. "Again, my teammates do a great job of getting me down there. Hopefully, I make a couple moves."
Baker was accompanied in double-figures by senior forward Tyler Kenkel who scored 14 points and hit a first half trey.
Senior point guard Treyton Burch had seven and hit the two biggest free throws of the game to put the Hounds up four with 49.2 seconds left. Junior forward Trent Nally also had seven points, battling underneath for two stick-backs following a first half three-pointer.
"The starters contributed, they all played well," said Kuwitzky. "Baker got a lot of the points, but other people scored too at big times."
Smithville's scoring was divided almost entirely between the trio of Brock Mick, Cory Marmet and Derek Howe.
Howe and Marmet shared the team lead with 19 points. Mick finished with 17 and hit all nine free throw attempts.
The rest of the Warriors were 0-4 at the foul line.
Smithville finished 22-48 from the field, but hit only one three-pointer prior to the fourth quarter while the Hounds had seven.
Marmet made two big one's during the Warriors fourth quarter comeback, the second of which cut it to 56-54. With a chance to tie on the next possession, Mick had an off-balance pull-up in the lane rim out.
"We got one of our best players (Mick) a 15-foot jumper, I would bet money that's going down to tie it," said Jones. "It didn't happen. Defense was great in the fourth quarter to have an opportunity to tie it, but we can't put ourselves in a hole down 15,17 at one point. It was unbelievable."
Smithville's largest lead of the game was two points and their last lead was 17-16 early in the second quarter.
The Hounds led by as many as four in the first quarter before falling behind 13-11.
A driving layup by Baker tied it at 13.
Maryville took the lead for good on a deep three from Baker on the right wing.
The Hounds gained control of the game over the final half of the second quarter, holding Smithville to just two points and no field goals during that time.
Smithville switched to a zone defense in the second quarter that enabled the Hounds to work clock on offense.
One patient possession yielded an offensive rebound and a kick-out three to Kenkel that made it 26-21.
With the Warriors in position to hold for the last shot, Baker collected a steal, drew a foul and made two free throws that put the Hounds up 28-21 with 32 seconds left.
This held as the halftime score.
The Hounds kept momentum on their side early in the third quarter, scoring the opening two baskets on shots by Baker and Burch to lead by 11.
An assist from Baker to Ty Hilsabeck made it 39-25 and forced a Smithville timeout.
The Hound lead jumped to 16 twice, with Baker scoring the first basket and assisting on the second to Kenkel.
A three-point play by Mick and two free throws at the end of the quarter reduced Maryville's lead to 49-36.
In the fourth quarter, Smithville played with the kind of desperation it lacked before and quickly put a dent into Maryville's lead.
Six straight by the Warriors to open the quarter made it 49-42.
After the Hounds extended the lead back to 10 twice, Marmet made three consecutive shots.
The last of those was a three-pointer from the right wing that cut Maryville's lead to 54-51 with 2:36 to play.
Baker answered with a post score, but a bank three from Marmet at the top of circle cut it two.
Smithville's hounding perimeter defense forced a turnover, giving the Warriors a chance to tie.
Mick missed the tying shot and the ball was deflected out of bounds off Smithville.
The Warriors fouled Burch right away, and he made both in a one-and-one situation to put the Hounds back up four.
Mick missed a three at the other end, and Baker connected on two more free throws for a 60-54 lead.
Kenkel knocked in the final four to extend Maryville's lead back to 10.
"I knew (their run) was coming and I thought we showed a lot of purpose," said Kuwitzky. "I thought we showed a lot of resolve. We didn't lose our cool. I thought we really contained our composure. When we made at stop on defense, got the rebound up two and called timeout, we said 'hey, take care of the ball. Every foul is a one-and-one.' We made our free throws, several guys made them and that was awesome."
By Joey Falkoff email@example.com
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Joey Falkoff firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated Feb. 3, 2013 @ 12:11 pm
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