Star Sundell leads MHS to 18-4 lead in first six minutes in Friday’s 63-37 shredding of Lady Hornets in Savannah tourney finale

SAVANNAH, Mo. — The seeds of the Maryville (Mo.) HS Lady Spoofhounds’ 63-37 thrashing of Chillicothe’s basketball Lady Hornets in Friday night’s (Dec. 6) third-place game of the 2019 Savannah Invitational Tournament might have been sown in CHS head coach Darren Smith by his own mind a night earlier.

In the aftermath of Chillicothe’s 51-33 loss to Independence: William Chrisman Thursday, Smith mused about whether, on back-to-back nights, his team physically would be up to game play at the faster pace he’s integrating in 2019-20.

“We’re going to see how well we are in shape,” he stated during a post-game broadcast interview Thursday.

Between then and tipoff Friday, he concluded that staying with the full-court defense and high-tempo offense his players still are assimilating – physically and mentally – carried greater risk than potential reward.

After the more-conservative, passive approach backfired in the form of an 18-4 Maryville blitz in the first six minutes of Friday’s contest, Smith owned the decision as a failure.

“We never recovered from that,” he stated in post-game broadcast remarks.

“They came out with a lot of intensity, they came out with a lot of energy. I’m not going to say we didn’t come with a lot of intensity and energy, but we didn’t come with near enough.”

He elaborated later, “Part of that’s my fault, … because I didn’t start us in our press because I thought we might save a little energy if I don’t do that, and I think I should have (stayed with the usual style).

“… So that’s kind of on me.”

Whether a different approach would have altered the proceedings appreciably can’t be known, but it’s possible Maryville simply was on its offensive game and Chillicothe, for a second-straight night, would not have been, regardless of the approach Smith chose.

What is certain that the Lady Spoofhounds' 6’1” junior star guard Serena Sundell had her outside shooting game going virtually from the outset and Chillicothe could neither stop her or respond at its own offensive end.

After neither side scored in the game’s opening minute – Chillicothe because it turned the ball over without getting a shot away on its first three possessions, Sundell sank her first two long-range attempts and then converted a MHS steal into a transition layup for an 8-0 Maryville advantage in the next 90 seconds.

The Lady Hornets, missing shot after shot the first 4-plus minutes, never were closer than six points behind the remainder of the night. They crept within seven early in the second stanza with six unanswered points on two Brooke Horton buckets and Lucy Reeter’s 18-footer, only to be down 29-15 at halftime. Consecutive Hunter Keithley treys a few minutes into the third quarter cut the gap back to single digits at 34-25, but the next eight points went on the Maryville side of the scoreboard and the looming outcome was clear.

Afterward, Smith shared that he saw the inexperience in the new offensive approach, perhaps combined with tired legs from the game the night before that might explain off-target mid- and long-range shooting, stymie Chillicothe’s attempts to keep pace.

“We’re still trying to learn how to go about doing our offense and how to go about getting the ball where it needs to go when it needs to go,” he explained.

He added, “I thought we dribbled first too much, instead of passing first. I didn’t think we set very good screens.”

At the same time, he suggested, even a more-effective offensive performance might not have kept his team in the game.

“When you give up 60-some points, you didn’t guard very good,” he said ruefully.

Statistically in Friday’s defeat, Chillicothe unofficially was guilty of 20 turnovers, while causing only six – half of which came in the last quarter with the game largely decided.

Maryville’s Sundell finished with 32 points, including hitting both five 3-pointers and five free throws without a miss. Freshman teammate Rylee Vierthaler chipped in 11 markers.

Chillicothe (2-2) – which attempted only 35 field goals, compared to Maryville’s 56 – was topped by Keithley’s eight points. CHS also attempted only two free throws prior to the last minute.