Maryville boys basketball is inching its way toward a top seed in district play, but before that, it must ride this week's gauntlet to determine its fate for the tournament.
The Spoofhounds head into one of the hardest weeks they have faced this season, with a conference foe and a battle for the No. 1 district seed. This week will determine the weight of their preseason goals.
As the Class 3 District 6 standings sit, there are three teams bidding for the top spot heading into the district tournament at St. Pius X. Maryville, Central Academy and St. Pius X, who hosts the tournament, all stand neck-and-neck heading to the final tier of the season.
Of the two competitors, Maryville will face off against St. Pius Friday. As for Central Academy, it will watch from the perimeter after suffering a loss to St. Pius earlier in the year.
“The St. Pius game is super important because it determines what seed we get,” coach Matt Stoecklein said. “It’s so much easier to play as a higher seed, and we would like to have that No. 1 seed, but to get that we have to beat St. Pius.”
As if the pressure was not already enough, an added conference rivalry pushed the importance of the week to DEFCON five.
Though LeBlond is not having the most successful year as a basketball program, Maryville knows they can not take a conference game for granted.
Maryville made quick work of LeBlond as they showed no mercy in a 52-33 victory.
“We are going to take it one game at a time,” senior Eli Dowis said. “We aren’t going to look past LeBlond, because they are a conference opponent that has the capability to beat us if we don’t take them seriously.”
The goal for the Spoofhounds is simple and has been since day one: play 30 games and win 30 games.
There is no secret message; their claim to win a state championship is the hopes of every player that steps on the court in a Maryville uniform. Now with a chance to step up in a big way, they need to focus on the here and now before focusing on any sort of end result.
No truer test showcased what can happen if the Spoofhounds stay focused than the success they showcased from the Cameron Tournament.
For the second year, Maryville was able to claim the Cameron crown after a pummeling victory against Chillicothe in the championship game 64-35.
“We found that if all our boys can play on the same page and work hard for the entire game, we can really beat a good team,” Stoecklein said. “Our championship game against Chillicothe, the boys really put together an entire game.”
After this week, the Spoofhounds will enter their final stretch with only three games left on the schedule before districts at St. Pius. The final three games will all be conference games with Cameron, Benton and Savannah.
On the surface, it seems like a coast to the district tournament, but with a recent history of letdowns, Maryville wants to take no chances. For this year to be different compared to years past, focus and taking one game at a time is a crucial part to a change of history.
“I think after winning those last two games last week, going into this week it's going to be a little bit of a heat check for us,” Dowis said. “If we keep playing at the level that we’ve been playing at, that would be good. It would help the way we are looking into the final part of the season.”