Ben Walker* holds the ball while eyeing his defender during the Spoofhounds’ 57-32 victory over Savannah January 17.

*A previous version of this article incorrectly labled Walker as Creid Stoecklein. The Missourian regrets the error. 

As the Maryville boys basketball season edges toward pivotal conference matchups, they must first face their weaknesses in the Cameron tournament.

The Spoofhounds search for that tough demeanor as they hope to expose their weaknesses and conquer them before the bulk of conference play.

As the week started, so did the Spoofhounds, as they are attending the Cameron basketball tournament throughout the week. The first leg of the tournament was set to start Tuesday afternoon but was postponed to Wednesday afternoon due to inclement weather.

Maryville is searching for an extra boost as they head into the final leg of the season that deals mostly with conference opponents.

“We are looking to win it for the second year in a row and just to improve on our weaknesses,” coach Matt Stoecklein said. “To fix some of our weaknesses and to clean up some of our execution.”

Thus far, the Spoofhounds have only played two Midland Empire Conference games, splitting the decisions and leaving them sitting in the middle of the pact.

With only a few weeks to go, it's time for Maryville to battle their demons in the Cameron tournament.

One of the Spoofhounds’ goals was to grow in toughness, and after the Savannah game, they did just that with a 57-32 victory. Even so, they still have room to grow before they take that next step into the back part of the season.

The conference games for Maryville are just the warmups to the actual goals that the Spoofhounds set back at the beginning of the season.

“Our goal is to make it to state,” senior guard Eli Dowis said.

Before the season began, the trend of the basketball team was simple: to make it to the state championship and celebrate with the trophy held high.

The Spoofhounds rode with the concept of #30 (hashtag 30) because it symbolizes the 30 games they must play to make it to state. Even now with the season nearing the do or die period, no players are backing away from the challenge.

The coach and all the players know that to complete the ultimate goal, the key is to remain mentally strong through the process. The Spoofhounds still are haunted by the loss to Lafayette earlier in the season, where they were called soft. Since that point, it's been the main criterion to fight with grit and determination as they head into battle.

“We want to continue to find the energy to put together a complete game as we did against Savannah,” Stoecklein said. “As for the rest of the season, we are dreaming big and looking to make a run to the final four and make sure we start playing now like we need to make that happen.”

Even the simplest of things can affect the game and Stoecklein understands the frustrations sometimes. But the only way to determine a champion compared to an average team is how they respond in the moments when they can not be mentally tough.

“We are looking to be challenged in many of those games and to get a tough mindset to help us finish in close games at the end of the season,” Stoecklein said. “We can't let calls or non-calls by refs or a mistake or missed shot affect how we play.”

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