If nothing else comes of this season, the Lady Hounds at least managed to send their three seniors out on a winning note at home.
In its home finale that was preceded by Senior Night festivities, Maryville brought an end to an agonizing 10-game losing streak with a 48-36 win over Nebraska City Tuesday at MHS Gymnasium.
The long-awaited victory—Maryville's sixth of the year—came nearly a month to the day after their last one against Falls City, Neb. on Jan. 11.
"It's a great feeling," said Maryville head girls basketball coach Grant Hageman. "These girls work so hard in-season, out-of-season and we had a lot of close games not go our way. It's good obviously for morale. You come back, you practice a little bit harder the next day after that. It's good to get this win here. We got another tough one Thursday. Hopefully, that builds into that and gives us a little momentum and then we'll see what happens next week."
Maryville (6-17) outscored Nebraska City in each of the first three quarters and built as much as a 17-point second half lead that never dipped below double-digits from the 4:45 mark of the third quarter on.
The Lady Hounds quadrupled their point total from the game before against Benton despite finishing very few shots around the basket and going 7-18 at the foul line.
In the second half, Maryville rode the hot hand of junior guard Chelsea Byland who matched her career-high with 21 points.
She had 13 of those in the second half and stroked three third quarter three's that helped break the game open.
Only two rare free throw misses on an intentional foul in the second quarter kept her from a new career-high.
"She's a fantastic shooter and tonight we did a really good job of executing our stuff and getting her shots," said Hageman. "She did a good job of finding shots in the offense and being aggressive tonight. She's a great shooter and teams know that. I think they'll try to shut her down, so we got to make sure we do some things to get her open and get her some open looks."
Maryville's other top long-range threat—senior guard Blair Twaddle—shined in the first half, scoring 12 of her 13 points.
Included in that were a pair of first quarter three's.
Junior forward Gabby Church led the inside attack with seven points and senior Chelsey McMichael added four.
Nebraska City freshman guard Andrea Freiling and sophomore Shady Hollesen shared the team lead with 11 points. Katie Zech also cracked double-figures with 10 points but missed all six of her free throws tries.
Page 2 of 3 - Collectively, the Lady Pioneers were 6-23 at the foul line, letting Maryville off the hook for early foul issues.
"It's a completely different game if they knock down some free throws," said Hageman. "It changes their strategy. It changes our strategy. We have to be smarter and adjust to the way they're calling it. We didn't do a very good job of that. I thought we were lucky to stay out of foul trouble. We had some people come off the bench and give us minutes here and there. That was huge to stay out of major foul trouble."
Already in the double-bonus in the first quarter, Nebraska City missed its first four free throw attempts and went 4-14 in the half.
The four early misses kept the game scoreless until Byland made a jumper with 5:46 left.
The game was tied once at 2 before the Lady Hounds ran off six straight to lead 8-3.
Consecutive three's by Twaddle—the last of those amid contact—gave the Hounds a 14-6 lead at the end of the quarter.
Twaddle twice staked the Hounds to 10-point leads in the second quarter. Five straight points from
Hollesen closed the gap to 20-15 with 4:11 left.
The Pioneers scored just one more point the rest of the half, and the Hounds made the last two baskets to lead 26-16.
In the third quarter, Maryville used an 8-0 run over a two-minute stretch to acquire its largest lead of 39-22.
Byland started it with a three and capped it with her third of the quarter.
Nebraska City outscored Maryville the rest of the way, but lacked the offensive firepower needed to threaten.
"We got some of those easy baskets in the third quarter, and I thought from there we relaxed a little bit," said Hageman. "Once we got some breathing room, I thought we had all the confidence in the world and the momentum just kept going our way. When you have confidence with shooting, it's contagious. It was good to see we were unselfish tonight and everyone played to their role and played really hard. I was pleased with the effort by everybody."
Maryville closes out out the regular season Thursday with Savannah, a team it lost to at home earlier this year 39-34.
Then it's on to district play Monday night with No. 8 seeded Maryville slated to take on No. 1 seed Hamilton at Bishop LeBlond.
"I know the girls are excited to prepare for Thursday against Savannah and they are excited for Monday, too," said Hageman. "We've had plenty of adversity. Hopefully, with the win tonight, we can fight through it when it comes our way."
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