Rebels make early lead stand up against WB
By David Cobb | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
William Blount kept pace with Maryville for the final three quarters of Friday’s District 4-AAA rivalry game at Maryville High School.
But in the first quarter, the cross-county matchup could have been confused for a cross country meet with Maryville the benefactor.
The Rebels used a 31-point barrage over the first eight minutes to distance themselves from the Govs, before withstanding a furious rally for a 71-58 District 4-AAA victory.
Both teams utilized a full court pressure defense in the opening quarter, but neither team seemed to have trouble scoring against it, especially the Rebels, who jumped out to a 9-0 lead less than two minutes into Friday’s action.
“We tried to press them and just see if we could get a couple steals, maybe some easy baskets because I knew how good their half-court defense is,” William Blount coach Kevin Windle told The Daily Times. “What happened was that it kind of worked in reverse. We gave them easy baskets instead.”
It was also part of Maryville coach Mark Eldridge’s plan to play an up-tempo game, the combination of strategies led to a frenetic pace, and a first-quarter lead that grew to as much as 20. The action slowed, but Maryville’s hot shooting continued as the teams traded buckets in the second quarter, while the Rebels took a seemingly comfortable 19-point lead to the break.
That’s when the momentum started to shift.
Halftime speeches may not be measurable in a box score, but the message that Windle delivered to his team in the locker room initiated a third quarter that showed no resemblance to the first half as the Govs cut Maryville’s lead to just 9 on a Jaden Bailey 3-pointer in the frame’s waning seconds.
“Just the pride, and that’s all we talked about,” Windle said. “We didn’t talk one single thing about them except when I asked them about how many three’s they thought Maryville made ... because it’s not like they outshot us. We were just giving them layups.”
With Maryville no longer receiving a steady income of easy baskets, and WB playing with a new sense of pride, the Govs were able to pull within seven points on two occasions in the fourth.
But Maryville stiffened its defense in the final moments, shooting 9-of-14 from the free throw line in the final quarter to keep the visitors at arm’s length and hold on for the win.
“I was frustrated that we allowed it to get to seven, but we will learn a lot more by them cutting it to seven, and seeing how we handle it, then if we keep it at 20,” Eldridge said. “You never want to give up the lead, but as a coach you always want to see how you handle when you do that, and tonight I thought we did a good job of that.”
The matchup held additional significance for Windle and Eldridge. Windle coached under Eldridge previously, and actually played under him for a season at Oneida High School.
“When I look at box scores the next morning, he’s always the first one I look for,” Eldridge said. “Simply for the fact that I want him to win every game, except this one.”