With four games remaining in the regular season, Maryville girls basketball is clawing its way through fatigue toward a conference championship.
The Spoofhounds (15-5, 4-1 MEC) are in position to win the Midland Empire Conference title as the regular season finale inches near. With three of the last four regular season games bearing title implications, coach Quentin Albrecht understands what’s up for grabs.
“There’s a lot on the line for us when it comes to these last three conference games,” Albrecht said. “We have a chance to either win a conference title over the next week or lose the conference title over the next week.”
Maryville’s single conference blemish stems from a 54-51 loss to Smithville in the championship game of the Cameron Tournament Feb. 1. Before then, the ’Hounds managed to beat conference opponents by an average of roughly 16 points per game.
However, the Spoofhounds have struggled when it comes to big game appearances. After facing an undefeated Glenwood (Iowa) team Feb. 8, Maryville struggled to keep up the pressure in the second half.
“I thought we responded really well in the first half, but we kind of faded down the stretch,” Albrecht said. “I think physically, we were kind of fatigued, and mentally, that got in our head a little bit.”
This isn’t the first time Albrecht has mentioned the lack of mental stamina. The struggle of mental fortitude has haunted the ’Hounds all season and with four games in the span of five days, the physical fatigue will play a big role in the team’s performance.
“I have a few girls that maybe aren’t focused on basketball,” Albrecht said. “The one thing I am going to encourage them to do is put all the other stuff they’re doing to the side and focus on what we’re doing.”
Albrecht wants the girls to focus on utilizing the few available days off to rest and not spend their energy doing things they shouldn’t be. When the girls aren’t in school or at practice, Albrecht would find it beneficial if the team was at home relaxing.
In addition to physical and mental fatigue, the team has not had the luxury of a home crowd since Jan. 16. Maryville went 4-3 during its seven-game road trip and the bus rides totaled more than nine hours.
“We’ve had some really long bus rides that’s tough on the girls,” Albrecht said. “I even feel the fatigue factor with so many hours on the bus.”
The ’Hounds are ready to return to the ’Hound Pound and finish out their season in a fashion that will either make or break the hopes of a conference championship. Maryville will have to finish off St. Joseph Benton, Cameron and Savannah before claiming its right to the title.
St. Joseph Benton (4-12) will be the first team to enter the ’Hound Pound in nearly a month. The Feb. 13 matchup will be a rather special game as Maryville honors its senior Spoofhounds on a night that is traditionally filled with emotions.
“The girls should be very excited to be home Thursday night for Senior Night,” Albrecht said. “For me, I’m excited about all the rest of our games.”