All in the county: Maryville Tilliellating against Lady Govs
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
It was cooling and slushy outside, but a smothering Maryville defense kept the visiting Lady Govs frigid from the field Friday in taking a 51-25 conference win over William Blount and knotting the teams at 5-4 in the District 4-AAA standings.
“Defesnively I thought we were good all night,” Maryville coach Scott West told The Daily Times. “That’s a team that scores a lot of points in a lot of games, and we held them to single digits at half, at 25 for the game. That’s not bad.”
It wasn’t bad at all. Maryville (8-9, 5-4 District 4-AAA) held WB to a field goal count that only required one hand to tally. Kristin McGill’s baseline jumper gave the Lady Govs (11-12, 5-4) their first bucket from the field 11 minutes into the action to make it a 6-point game at 9-3. Samantha Henry followed with WB’s sole trey. Amber Click dropped in a jumper from the foul line in the third, and a McGill fourth-quarter bucket in transition finished the count at four. The Lady Rebels paid a price for that defense, as WB made 35 trips to the foul line.
“They were at the free throw line 35 times. We can’t allow that,” West said. “If they’d more of those we’d have been in trouble. They doubled us at the free throw line. But we hit some buckets and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor.”
Kayla Tillie broke open a joint sluggish start after a class-free snow day for both schools and a combined 6-point first quarter. The Maryville sophomore sparked a 16-point second quarter, dropping a trio of the Lady Rebels’ five treys in the stanza for a 34-13 lead at the break.
“Kayla Tillie finally had the game she’s capable of having,” West said after a 16-point outing from the underclassman. “The thing that she was doing, she got back to being Kayla — diving face first for loose balls, diving into the bleachers, that’s her.”
Tillie took a skip pass from Leila Bangash on the right wing to swish the first 3-pointer, then backed Olivia Spears’ 3-ball with her second trifecta to open the margin to 15-3. Bangash dropped in her own bomb from beyond the arc with a minute to play before half, and Tillie sank another before the buzzer after Kat Pepperman came up with a steal and flipped it to the sophomore waiting on the right wing.
“My shots hadn’t been falling, and I was relying on my teammates. I was feeling it tonight and came out pumped and ready to play,” Tillie said. “It was really big to get those 3s. When one person knocks down a 3 it gets everyone going and they start falling.”
Bangash, who has become the rock-steady but oddly stealthy scoring presence for the Lady Rebels, scored 13 of her game-high 17 in the second half while grabbing nine rebounds.
“She’s averaging 18 a game since our first two. She never presses. She’s just steady. It was another quiet 17,” West said. “I don’t think opposing coaches even recognize it sometimes until they get in the locker room and look at the book and wonder when she scored 17 or 18 or 20.”
But the biggest eruption of cheer of the night was reserved for a reserve. Karin Hamaguchi’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left brought the Maryville bench to its feet in applause as the 5-foot, 2-inch senior closed out the scoring.
WB gets the weekend to regroup before a busy week in district play. Blount hosts Farragut Tuesday, has a make-up date at Bearden Wednesday and visits Catholic on Friday. Maryville is back in action tonight playing at Alcoa in a game rescheduled from Thursday’s snow-out before tackling a similarly congested conference slate.
“We’re 5-4. WB is 5-4. Heritage didn’t play tonight, but they’re 4-4, and Lenoir City is 4-5. So it’s anybody’s game in between, and there isn’t much separating the group. That’s a pretty big log jam,” West said. “I know we had a big win tonight, but that’s a very good William Blount team. We shot it well and played well defensively. They’re better than that, and if we see them again, we know that won’t be the outcome. But we’re proud of the effort. We’ll get ready for Alcoa and continue on the Blount County tour.”
Maryville travels to Catholic Tuesday, hosts a makeup day with Knox West Thursday and goes back to West Knoxville for a date with Farragut on Friday.