MARYVILLE, Mo. — Spoofhound standout guard Serena Sundell could not get her shot to fall early on in a 51-42 win over St. Pius X Tuesday night at the Hound Pound. That would be hard to know simply from looking at the final box score.
Recording just six points in the first half, Sundell finished with 31, including 19 in the fourth quarter.
“It was frustrating, but my coaches are always good at telling me to keep shooting and that if I don’t shoot they’re never going to fall, so they were really good with that and just kept my confidence up,” Sundell said. “It’s super awesome knowing that even if I’m not (getting shots to fall), other people are going to find the basket or (draw) a foul and get to the line, so it feels good.”
That other person early in this contest was freshman Rylee Vierthaler. The 5-foot-10 forward kept the Spoofhounds in the game early on, finding position under the basket and taking assists from Sundell and senior Molly Renshaw to account for five points early in the game.
Junior Emily Cassavaugh added two free throws with two and a half minutes left in the first quarter to complete the scoring with the home team in front 9-7.
It wasn’t only Sundell who struggled to get the ball to go through the basket, just about everyone on the floor had trouble getting shots to fall in the first half as the two Midland Empire Conference teams battled to a six-point separation by halftime with Maryville on top, 19-13.
Without the usual point production from the team’s leading scorer, the Spoofhounds turned to a smothering defense, hard fought points from Vierthaler under the basket and a timely three-pointer from freshman Anastyn Pettlon that broke a tie and gave Maryville a lead it would hold onto until the fourth quarter. Vierthaler had eight points in the first half to lead all scorers through the first 16 minutes.
“Defensively, we did a lot of good things,” head coach Quentin Albrecht said. “We held them around 40 points, which is kind of an indicator for us.
“If we can keep teams around or under 40, we’re always going to have a pretty good chance to win.”
Both teams began to find their range in the third quarter, combining for five three pointers during that period. Two came from Sundell and another from Vierthaler, while St. Pius kept pace with two treys and five free throws. At the end of three quarters, Maryville held a 28-26 advantage.
Maryville found itself in a bit of foul trouble early in the third, as Cassavaugh sat down with three fouls early on. Vierthaler picked up her third foul later on in that frame, but Albrecht was able to limit the damage by relying on his bench. Senior Emily Long and sophomore Lauren Cullin clocked significant playing time in the second half and the team didn’t miss a beat.
Both offenses continued to heat up in the fourth frame. A three-pointer from St. Pius junior Natalie Rippy gave the Warriors their first lead, 29-28, since early in the second quarter, but that’s about the time that Sundell found her rhythm.
A three-point play got things started for Sundell to regain the lead with almost seven minutes left. She scored from three-point range, from the free throw line and off assists from her teammates. Leading 46-39 with 48 seconds left and inbounding the ball under St. Pius’ basket, Cassavaugh hooked up with Sundell on a full-court pass that looked more like a play out of Andy Reid’s playbook than something you’d see in a girls basketball game.
Sundell converted on the play to seal the victory and Cassavaugh tacked on three free throws in the final seconds.
“Games like that are so much more beneficial to us than having that easy win where you win by 15, 20, 25 points,” Albrecht said. “We’re going to see St. Pius again. That is not the last time we will see them.
“That’s a great conference win for us, it has great conference implications and it also has district implications, but St. Pius is in our district and they’ll be a tough out, so I think that’s great for our confidence and also being able to execute offensively.”
Sundell ended the night with 31 points, followed by 12 from Vierthaler, five from Cassavaugh and three from Pettlon. The Spoofhounds stood at 10-1 following the win.
Pius used 16 points from Mia Simone and moved to 6-2 with the loss.