Coming off of a historic campaign a season ago, Maryville boys basketball knew that it would have its challenges.
The program that finished last season 23-3, won the MEC and was claimed Class 3 District 16 champions, is the same program that started its conference slate with a 2-5 record.
The path, thus far, hasn’t been easy. Nonetheless, it’s a path the Spoofhounds must go down. This season, the conference opener was against MEC foe Lafayette. The performance, for Maryville, was symbolic of everything this season has represented to this point.
Maryville’s roster, one that consists of substantially less experienced talent compared to the 2018-19 season’s, has endured its fair share of roller coaster moments. The game against the Irish would prove to be no different.
“From where we started the season, to where we are now, I’m so much happier and pleased,” Maryville coach Matt Stoecklein said.
Where the Spoofhounds reside now includes a loss to Lafayette, perhaps one that shouldn’t have been.
Leading 17-9 at the end of the first quarter, a win appeared attainable. After having a 27-19 advantage at the half, a win was 16 minutes away from being a sure thing.
With a little over four minutes left in the third quarter, the lead was nonexistent, the hopes of a win dissipating.
An all-around onslaught by the Irish left Lafayette with a 36-33 advantage after three quarters. The lead, one that the Irish grew accustomed to, was in jeopardy with 17.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
After freshman phenom Caden Stoecklein buried a three from the corner, the hope came back. And as quick as it came back is as quick as it left.
A last-second desperation shot to tie the game left Maryville with a heartbreak at home and a loss to Lafayette for the second year in a row.
The loss, Matt Stoecklein said, boiled down to failed execution throughout the stretch. The inexperience, he added, held the Spoofhounds to a disadvantage.
“We’ll go back and watch film, and then we’ll go back and recreate those situations,” Matt Stoecklein said. “You go over those things and you go over them in practice again and again, and the players just gain experience in those situations.”
“I mean, we only have a couple of kids with varsity experience,” Caden Stoecklein added.
The two with experience are represented by senior Tate Oglesby and junior Ben Walker. The very duo that led the charge for the Spoofhounds’ football team in the fall now leads the charge on the court.
Combined, the pair has one win against the Irish. Whether it be considered luck, or something else, the Spoofhounds have struggled when playing Lafayette. Despite the lopsided history, Irish coach Kevin Bristol saw a Maryville team that plays better than its record shows, Bristol said.
“I mean they’re a good team,” Bristol said. “With Maryville, they’re always tough.”
The loss for Maryville, of course, leaves room for improvement among the conference. With the heart of their MEC schedule ahead, the Spoofhounds will have plenty of chances to do that. The record doesn’t show the team that they are, Caden Stoecklein said. The team to come, he added, is one to watch out for.
“We’re just going uphill from now on,” Caden Stoecklein said. “Our record doesn’t show that, but we’re growing as a team.”