MARYVILLE, Mo. — Eli Dowis, Tyler Houchin, Creid Stoecklein and Matthew Madden have played a lot of basketball together, but Friday night at the Hound Pound was special as they celebrated their ‘Senior Night’ and did so with a 71-46 rout of MEC-rival Benton. 

“I’ve been sitting there watching Senior Night for my whole life waiting for my time to be out there with the kids I’ve played with for 10-plus years now,” Stoecklein said. “It is nice to get a really big win on this night.”

The seniors made their impact felt early with Houchin taking a pass from Stoecklein for a layup and a 2-1 lead then Stoecklein hit a three for the quick four-point cushion. 

Benton’s Chol Ater did his best to keep Benton (7-13; 0-4 MEC) in it with eight of the Cardinals’ first nine points of the night. But Maryville (18-2; 4-1 MEC) proved too much with its balanced scoring attack. 

“It is great to see that because this is the time of the year you want to be playing well to help you down the road with those tougher games,” Maryville coach Matt Stoecklein said. 

After the Cardinals crept within 15-11 late in the first quarter, Dowis got into the scoring action with a deep three with three seconds left in the first quarter. Dowis extended the lead to 21-13 early in the second quarter, but After came back with a pair of shots to trim the margin back to four. 

“He is one of the best players in the conference,” Matt Stoecklein said of Ater.

The Spoofhounds, who only had two three-pointers to that point, found their stroke from three with Houchin and Ben Walker triples sandwiching a Tallon Noland foul shot. Noland connected on two more free throws and Houchin hit another three while the Hounds played their best defense of the night for a 12-0 run and a 33-18 lead. 

“We know we are a decent shooting team, but we have always prided ourselves on our defense,” Stoecklein said. 

After Ater ended the run with a pair of free throws, Walker made sure the Hounds kept the momentum going into half with a corner three to end the first half and send his team to the locker room up 36-20. 

That hot shooting carried into the third quarter as Houchin hit his third triple of the game to open the second half. 

“I haven’t been shooting as well the last couple games, but to find it again on our home floor is nice,” Houchin said. “All of us are starting to shoot it well again from three.”

A pair of Tate Oglesby baskets to answer an Ater bucket put the lead over 20 for the first time. Benton got back within 17, but the Maryville seniors made sure in didn’t get any closer as Madden found Dowis for an alley-oop to kickoff a 13-2 Maryville run where the seniors scored each point with Dowis scoring seven, Creid Stoecklein adding four and Houchin having the other basket. 

The Maryville lead grew as high as 71-38 in the fourth quarter before Matt Stoecklein took each of his seniors out to a big ovation from the crowd at the Hound Pound. 

“I’ve known them all for such a long time and it is just a special night for all of them to have,” Matt Stoecklein said.

Ater was the game’s top scorer with 24 points, but the balance of the Spoofhounds prevailed with 18 for Oglesby, 17 for Dowis and 16 for Houchin. 

“Eli is chasing 1,000 points — he is getting very close — and he was still throwing that ball up the court for open people late in that game when he probably could have driven it down and tried to score himself and get a little bit closer,” Matt Stoecklein said. “So that just goes to his unselfishness.”

Walker added eight off the bench while Creid Stoecklein had seven, Noland had three and Madden added two. 

“It gives us a lot of confidence going into the playoffs,” Creid Stoecklein said. “We know that even if we start slow, we can still turn on the jets and score 70-some points.”

The Spoofhound senior will have two more opportunities to play at the Hound Pound on Saturday when they host Cameron at 2:30 p.m. before ending the regular season next Friday with a home game against Savannah.

Sports Editor