Since winning the Class 3 District 16 title in dominating fashion Saturday, the Spoofhound boys basketball team has quickly had to re-calibrate its goals.
All along, Maryville's main focus has been on replacing Cameron as the district champion.
Now that they've checked that off the to-do list, the Hounds have their sights set on a trip to Columbia and a Final Four berth.
"I think they're very focused and very determined," said Maryville head boys basketball coach Mike Kuwitzky. "Their ultimate goal is to get to the Final Four, but they're not looking beyond this opening game. They want the season to continue. That's really cool and that's encouraging."
Two wins away from reaching the Final Four, Maryville opens the state playoffs tonight at 5 p.m. against District 15 champion St. Pius X in sectionals at Excelsior Springs High School.
The winner advances to the quarterfinals to face either Butler or Lafayette County Saturday at the Independence Events Center.
Maryville (20-7) throttled Cameron 63-40 in the district finals and is making its first playoff appearance since 2009-2010 when it went to the quarterfinals. The Hounds have won four straight games and five of their last six.
St. Pius X (20-6) beat perennial Class 3 power Hogan Prep in the District 15 finals and is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Hounds and Warriors met twice in football this past year, but this is the first basketball encounter Kuwitzky can remember in the last seven.
Northwest Missouri's two remaining Class 3 teams share only one common opponent this season: Smithville.
Maryville beat Smithville 64-57 at home Feb. 1, while SPX lost at Smithville 52-50 four days later.
"I think it's going to be a good matchup," said St. Pius X head coach Chad Wright who noted he's watched Maryville play several times. "I think they're very well-coached. They play great defense. They rebound. Kind of their strengths are our strengths. They'll probably have matchup problems with us because we're taller than them position to position. We play a pretty similar style of basketball: man-to-man, motion-type offense. We're pretty evenly-matched. They got a pretty special player in the (Jonathan) Baker kid. If we can contain him, I like our chances."
SPX played a rugged regular season schedule that included tournament games against five Class 5 opponents and several others against Class 4 schools.
By comparison, Maryville only played two Class 5 schools, but had 11 games against Class 4 competition during the regular season.
The Warriors beat St. Joseph Central 55-52 in the Liberty North Tournament on a buzzer-beating shot that appeared on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays. They also beat Kearney 40-34.
St. Pius X's lineup contains three double-figure scorers led by left-handed guard Brian Kaufmann with 15.7 points per game. Kuwitzky compared his game to that of Smithville's Brock Mick.
Mac Mason, a 6-4 forward, and Luke Hoban average better than 10 points per game. Guard Nick Morgan is only the team's fourth leading scorer, but knocked down seven three-pointers in the district finals.
The Warriors starting point guard is sophomore Marshall Mason, the younger brother of Mac.
"They're very similar I think to the caliber of Smithville," said Kuwitzky. "When we watched film, they are a very fundamentally sound them. They're strong. They're fast. They really play together well. They've got a 5-11 point guard and everybody else is 6-2, 6-4. They like to run. They play tough man-to-man defense, although they might try to play some zone against us since most people have been lately."
Maryville has carved up most defenses of late, scoring 55 points or better in five of its last seven games.
The Hounds have four bona fide scoring threats in their starting five of Baker, senior Tyler Kenkel, senior Treyton Burch, junior Trent Nally and junior Ty Hilsabeck.
Baker (16.8 ppg) led the Hounds in scoring in the semifinals and finals of districts and is approaching 1,100 points for his career. Kenkel (11.6 ppg), Burch (9.7 ppg) and Nally (6.3 ppg) all had double-figure games against Cameron, while Hilsabeck tossed in seven points.
The Hounds only go about seven deep with senior Kyle Leslie playing the most off the bench.
As a whole, Maryville's emphasis going into this game is on the defensive end where they stepped up during district play, allowing only 36.3 points per game.
"I think we got to play good defense," said Kuwitzky. "We got to be able to really work hard on not letting them do what they want to offensively. I felt like going into districts defense was going to be our key and I think that's won the district for us. We got to continue to play good defense."
By Joey Falkoff email@example.com
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Joey Falkoff firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated Feb. 26, 2013 @ 7:13 pm
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