MARYVILLE, Mo. — Maryville was discouraged after last Thursday's loss to Lafayette in St. Joseph, but were determined to come into this week and show that they are a better team than they showed last week.
Through two days and two games, it is mission accomplished so far. After routing Oak Grove on Monday, the Hounds (5-4) were underdogs when they welcomed Center (7-1) to the Hound Pound on Tuesday. The Hounds gave them all the could handle, but fell 59-54.
“I never like a loss, but this was a good one for us,” Maryville senior Caleb Kreizinger said. “We really proved a lot to ourselves. If you looked at us against Lafayette, we did not handle the pressure as well as we did tonight.
“Although it is a loss, it is one we learned from and one we definitely got better from.”
It was the rare instance this season when Maryville went into a game with the size disadvantage, but they came ready to match Center's physicality.
“We came up short, but we definitely improved tremendously from this game and hopefully, it will help us moving on,” Maryville sophomore Caden Stoecklein said.
The players credited most of them playing football with that mindset that carried into the game to match Center's power.
“Obviously coming into it we were undersized, but with all of us being football players, we are used to be physical, and we like the game to be like that,” Kreizinger said. “We kept up with the physical aspect of the game, we just needed to hit some shots at the end.”
The Yellowjackets opened up an 18-13 lead early in the second quarter, but Maryville answered with a post score by Kreizinger and a 3-pointer by freshman Derek Quinlin.
“Later on in the season, it will help tremendously to have dudes that can come off the bench score and play good defense,” Stoecklein said.
The Spoofhounds took the lead on a 3-point play by Stoecklein, who finished through the contact. Other than that play, Maryville's leading scorer was fairly quiet in the opening half, but the changed in the second half.
“In the first half, I was trying to force stuff too much,” Stoecklein said. “In the second half, I let it come to me and then things opened up for me.”
Stoecklein hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter to give Maryville a 30-27 lead.
Center battled back for a 32-30 lead, but the Spoofhounds closed the quarter on a 10-2 run which included five points from Kreizinger on a 3-point play and a putback on a missed free throw in the final ten seconds of the quarter.
“We came out with a height disadvantage, and we aren't used to that,” Kreizinger said. “We came out also with an athleticism disadvantage. We just need to work on boxing out.”
Stoecklein's passing also flashed to end the quarter with him cutting back-door, but instead of a contested layup when he got the pass, he hit Marc Gustafson rolling into the lane for an easy two.
“He has to continue to do that, find that open guy, even more than he already does,” Maryville coach Matt Stoecklein said of his son Caden. “In the second half, he came up and hit some big shots and finished at the rim better than he had earlier.”
Center cut the margin to five early in the fourth, but a bucket from Gustafson and a free throw by Stoecklein stretched the margin to its widest yet at 43-35.
Center star London Taylor had a five-point flourish that included a dunk and a 3-pointer to pull his Yellowjackets within three, but Caden Stoecklein answered with his own five-point run with 3-pointer and an interior bucket.
Center roared back with a 8-0 run to tie the game, before Caden Stoecklein made a pair from the line for a two-point lead.
Center answered with a 3-pointer by Keyren Spiller for its first lead of the quarter with 1:28 left. Spiller added two more with a basket with 45 seconds left. With 10 seconds to go and a three-point lead, Spiller missed the front end of an one-and-one, but Center grabbed the offensive rebound, and Taylor hit a pair to seal the win.
“The thing we didn't bank on was them shooting so well from the 3-point line,” Matt Stoecklein said. “They really shot well from behind the 3-point line.”
Maryville was led in scoring by Caden Stoecklein's 21 points while Kreizinger added 13 points. Gustafson had seven, Spencer Willnerd had six, Trey Houchin and Quinlin had three each, and Keaton Stone had one.
Center was led by Spiller with 17 points and Taylor with 16.
Maryville will be back at home on Saturday when they will host Glenwood (Iowa). The day will start with a varsity girls game at 2 p.m., with the boys scheduled to follow a 4 p.m.
“They are so much improved from where we were two or three weeks ago,” Matt Stoecklein said of his team.