Maryville girls basketball (9-1) got out to a hot start this season, despite playing in the coldest months of the year. Facing new opponents and traveling to new destinations proved to be no problem as coach Quentin Albrecht is proud of what his team has accomplished thus far.
Following their first loss of the season Dec. 11, Albrecht suggested that the girls’ egos might’ve affected their performance.
“I just thought we were a little too big for our britches, to tell you the truth,” Albrecht said. “Some of the girls were coming off of a state championship in volleyball. We opened up our home season to Platte Valley and we lost that 53-50.”
There are four Spoofhounds on the basketball roster who also played volleyball in the fall: senior guard Serena Sundell, sophomore Kennedy Kurz and freshmen Anastyn Pettlon and Rylee Vierthaler.
However, Sundell said that factors beyond the girls’ realm of control is what helped Platte Valley escape the ’Hound Pound with a win.
“For me, I don’t necessarily agree with that 100%,” Sundell said. “We want to win. That’s who we are, and I don’t think we were settling for anything in the Platte Valley game. I give credit to those girls and their coach, and I feel like we could’ve been more mentally prepared for that game.”
The Spoofhounds’ 53-50 loss to Platte Valley was the highest point total scored against them so far. Since that game, Maryville has allowed an average of 28.1 points per game, while scoring an average of 54.6 points per game. The team has outscored opponents 328-169 in six games since Dec. 29.
“I’m most proud of what we’ve done since the Platte Valley game,” Albrecht said. “The defensive effort we’ve put out — I’m proud of that. Also, the attitude changed. The girls are working harder in practice; I feel that they’re more focused in practice and more focused going into our games.”
Albrecht talked to his team after the game and told the girls this game could be either a loss or a lesson. As the girls digested their coach’s message, Sundell reflected on what the loss meant to her.
“I think we just came out slow,” Sundell said. “We beat them, I think, pretty handily last year. I think they just wanted it more, and we have to realize that we’re not going to just step out on the floor and get a win. We’re going to have to come out and still want to win every game.”
Sundell also said that the girls learned they will need to prepare better mentally for games. While fighting to better their minds, the ’Hounds fought new opponents on the court via the Doane Holiday Tournament Dec. 29-30 in Crete, Nebraska.
Maryville duked it out against some of Nebraska’s best teams from the previous year. The Spoofhounds’ first matchup was against Grand Island Northwest (6-7), which made it to Class B’s Final Four in the Nebraska State Championships, the second largest class in the state. Grand Island’s past accomplishments failed to phase Maryville, and the Spoofhounds rolled on to a 58-32 victory.
Qualifying for the tournament’s championship game, Maryville was matched against the best team in Class B the previous year, the reigning Nebraska state champions: Crete High School (8-1). Again, Maryville disregarded previous records and focused on the game at hand. After defeating Crete Dec. 31 39-28, the ’Hounds snapped photos with a different tournament trophy from ones they’ve won in the past.
“I think it was refreshing for our team to go up to Nebraska and see new teams,” Sundell said. “The last three years I’ve been here, we’ve gone to the Bishop LeBlond tournament. I think playing that good competition up there is only going to help us at the end of the season.”
Albrecht was excited to get the girls away from the LeBlond Holiday Tournament this year and see new teams that they wouldn’t see multiple times later in the season. However, these familiar foes don’t equate to an easy schedule.
“Our schedule from here on out is very difficult,” Albrecht said. “We have a state-ranked St. Pius, we have a state-ranked team in Glenwood (Iowa), LeBlond, Cameron — which is state-ranked — and Chillicothe. We added Jeff City, which is a 5A school. We added Central, which is a 5A school out of St. Joseph. We really have a tough road ahead.”
Albrecht hopes these games will prepare his team for the postseason. As his star player agrees with him, Sundell also believes the team’s versatility will make its opponents struggle to win a game against them.
“Every year, we’re getting more and more girls involved in our offense,” Sundell said. “Everyone’s getting assists; everyone’s getting points on the board — so rather than just having a couple of girls the other team has to look out for, the other team has to look out for all of us. That’s going to make us hard to stop.”
Maryville’s win streak increased to six after a 45-32 victory Jan. 12 against East Buchanan. With another game down, Albrecht and the Spoofhounds can push onward.
“It might be a little cliche, but we have to take one game at a time,” Albrecht said. “I think if we do that, it allows us to stay focused. We just need to do that and move on down the road.”