SAVANNAH, Mo. — The Maryville High School girls basketball team collected its second win of the season in its first game of the Savannah Invitational Tournament thanks to another stellar performance from junior Serena Sundell.
The Spoofhounds (2-0) defeated the Benton Cardinals (0-2) 44-27 for the first time since the 2010-11 season. The last time Maryville beat the Cardinals, seniors Molly Renshaw and Emily Long would’ve been in the fourth grade.
“That was really important for the girls, I think psychologically more than anything,” coach Quentin Albrecht said about the win. “ … To come out and play as we did with the intensity we did, we played with a tremendous amount of intensity. Since I’ve been here, we haven’t had a game where there’s been that much intensity for 32 minutes.”
Maryville started the game on a 6-0 run thanks to six straight points from Sundell. It would take Benton 5:58 to score its first point.
Sundell hit a running half-court shot at the buzzer to make the score 12-3 at the end of the first quarter. The junior guard scored all 12 of her team’s first-quarter points.
Freshman forward Rylee Vierthaler was the first Spoofhound to score not named Serena Sundell as her three-pointer pushed the Spoofhound lead to 15-6 early in the second quarter.
The Hounds found themselves in some foul trouble as the halftime intermission loomed nearer. Albrecht said having sophomore Lauren Cullin helped Maryville get to the break without too much foul trouble.
“We have people over there like Lauren Cullin sitting over there to my right-hand side knowing we can plug her in really at any position,” Albrecht said. “ … That’s why Lauren is a team captain for us. Even though she doesn’t start for us, she doesn’t care and she embraces her role and is a super, great teammate.”
The Cardinals whittled away at the Spoofhounds’ lead but never took the lead cutting Maryville‘a advantage to eight points at halftime, 19-11.
Sundell took 12 points into the locker room while Vierthaler added seven points to the Spoofhounds’ cause.
With the lead at the intermission, Albrecht said he was worried about a lull out of halftime but his team took care of it early in the third quarter.
“Any time you come out of halftime and you have a lead you always worry about a little letdown,” Albrecht said. “The cliche is the first three minutes coming out of halftime is very important.”
Maryville was able to fool Benton as the Cardinals lined up on the wrong side of the floor to start the half which led to Sundell’s easiest two points of the night.
Junior forward Emily Cassavaugh and freshman guard Anastyn Pettlon got on the board in the third quarter allowing the Hounds to go on a run and grow their lead to 32-15 at the end of the period.
“They never went away,” Albrecht said. “But in the third quarter coming out after halftime and not losing that intensity and that focus is really big because in years past we’ve struggled with that.”
Benton switched to a zone defense early in the fourth quarter which gave Maryville fits. The Cardinals cut the lead to 32-20 before Albrecht called a timeout.
On the next possession, Sundell was fouled shooting a three-pointer and hit all three free throws to make the score 35-20 with five minutes remaining in the game.
The Spoofhounds grew their lead thanks to late-game free throws.
Sundell finished the game with 24 points while Vierthaler recorded 13 in her second varsity game.
“Tonight I thought her scoring was kind of quiet,” Albrecht said. “You get to expect that from her which is maybe unfair to her but what is really a blessing is we really have four girls at any time that can score in double figures.”
Maryville will take on Staley at 7 p.m. Thursday in its second pool play game of the Savannah Invitational Tournament. The winner will play in the championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.