GOWER, Mo. — Maryville senior Serena Sundell has joined a lot of 'exclusive clubs' in her time at Maryville as she has checked off different career milestones from the list. At each milestone, those clubs have kept getting smaller and smaller, and now, having run out of peers in the history of Spoofhound basketball, she has begun to establish her own clubs.
On Tuesday night in Gower, Sundell founded the 2,000-point club with 22 points in a 45-32 road win at East Buchanan.
“It is very exciting to be a part of the 2,000 point club,” Sundell said. “I guess I'll be the founding member at MHS. It is really exciting and I couldn't do it without my coaches and teammates giving me the opportunities that they have.”
The future Kansas State Wildcat has overseen the growth of the Spoofhound girls' basketball program alongside coach Quentin Albrecht. Albrecht says that seeing a 2,000-point scorer is a first in his coaching career.
“Serena has some natural athleticism, but it is not her natural athleticism that has gotten her to where she is today,” Albrecht said. “... Lots of people have God-given talent, but she takes the talent that she has and she mixes in other key ingredients like hard work and dedication, mixes in a little little humility and some other good personal characteristics that she has and you really have what I would consider a complete player.”
The game itself got off to a slow start as the team adjusted to playing without junior Lauren Cullin, who injured her ankle in the previous night's victory over Oak Grove, and seemed to be waiting for Sundell to reach the milestone they all knew was coming.
“I've said it before, I'll say it again, I think (East Buchanan coach Cori Elms) is just one of the best coaches in the area,” Albrecht said. “She always has her teams well prepared and she is always willing to try a little something different. Tonight, we saw where they were guarding three (players) and not guarding two. It took us a little while to adjust to it because that is something that you don't see very often.”
Sundell got on the board to tie the game at 2-2 in the opening quarter and freshman Ava Dumke gave the Hounds (9-1) their first lead of the night at 4-2. Dumke got the start in the place of Cullin.
“Lauren's shoes are some big shoes to fill,” Dumke said. “She gets a lot of rebounds, a lot of steals, and she is kind of irreplaceable when it comes to what she does on the floor. It was kind of nerve-wracking to have to take over her spot, but she was really encouraging.”
The teams went back and fourth for the rest of the first quarter and the early portion of the second quarter, but Sundell hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 12-9 and then finished a layup for her 2,000th and 2,001st points.
“I was so excited,” Maryville sophomore Kennedy Kurz, who was also a key part of the Maryville state championship volleyball team with Sundell, said. “It is really fun to play with her in pretty much every sport.”
The game was stopped with a timeout to recognize the achievement while the crowd cheered, including Henry Swink, Briley Watkins, Klarysa Stolte, Macy Loe and Morgan Stoecklein who stretched a sign across their de-facto student section which Stoecklein had drawn up.
Sundell quickly followed that moment with a traditional 3-point play and Rylee Vierthaler added a basket after an offensive rebound.
After the Bulldogs pulled to within six, Sundell found Abby Swink for two points. With Cullin out, Swink and Kurz each had expanded roles off the bench.
“They are doing exactly what we need them to do and more,” Sundell said. “Ava, she can step up and make those shots if they want to decide to play off, double-team and throw out that defense that they did — I am confident that our girls are going to step up and come off the bench with that spark we need.”
Sundell finished the half with a steal and layup to take a 23-15 lead into the locker room. She began the second half in the same fashion with a steal and layup then put back an offensive rebound for a 12-point lead.
East Buchanan kept fighting through and sliced the margin to 31-25 at the end of the third quarter.
In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, the gym fell silent as the teams battled for a loose ball and Sundell's leg was crashed into. The senior lay on the floor with play stopped for a moment, but then stood up and walked to the bench as the crowd cheered in unison once more.
Sundell was only out of the game for a play before returning to the floor. She says she was inspired by Cullin playing through her injured ankle the night before.
“At first, it felt a little odd, but I have to learn to be tough like Lauren,” Sundell said. “She sprained her ankle last night and stood up like there was nothing wrong, while I'm down there making a big deal. I was fine. I just needed a second to regroup and gather myself.”
Sundell's presence was immediately felt with a basket to kickoff a 10-0 run after the lead had shrunk to four.
Dumke answered a East Buchanan bucket with her fourth and fifth points of the quarter and Sundell hit two from the foul line to seal the victory and allow the bench to finish out the game.
Sundell finished with 22 points and now has 2,017 for her career. Dumke had nine, Vierthaler had six, Emily Cassavaugh and Anastyn Pettlon had three each and Swink had two.
Lily Schilling led East Buchanan with 12 points and reached a milestone of her own becoming East Buchanan's 12th member of the 1,000-point club. The future Clarke University player had to contend with Sundell's defense for a majority of the evening. Maya Watkins added 11 for the Bulldogs.
Maryville will face a rare instance where, on paper, they will be the underdogs on Thursday. The Hounds travel to St. Pius X to face off with the Warriors (9-0), who are ranked seventh in Class 5.