Friday had Maryville coach Scott West feeling like it was 1998.
The Lady Rebels trailed for most of their District 4-AAA meeting with cross-county rival Heritage but snatched a 50-48 victory from the jaws of defeat with a fourth-quarter comeback to remain unbeaten, harkening back to a moment of Tennessee lore 20 years ago.
“You feel for their kids because they deserved this one more than we did,” West told The Daily Times. “I compare it to the 1998 Tennessee football national championship when (Arkansas’) Clint Stoerner put (the ball) on the ground.
“Sometimes you get a win you shouldn’t, and to have the season we hope to have, you’re going to have to have a little luck, and we got a little lucky tonight.”
Maryville (17-0, 7-0 District 4-AAA) trailed by nine points with two minutes, 48 seconds remaining before a layup by senior Lindsey Taylor ignited a late rally.
Junior Katie Cunningham followed with a bucket of her own, and sophomore Gracie Midkiff hit a three. Senior Courtney Carruthers hit back-to-back layups in the final minute to tie the game before Cunningham drained a pair of game-winning free throws with 12 seconds remaining.
The Lady Rebels held the Lady Mountaineers (13-6, 3-5) without a field goal over the final four minutes, two seconds to bolster the comeback. Heritage’s only points during that stretch where two free throws by junior Emma Harig.
“Our girls just didn’t make baskets,” Heritage coach Rick Howard said. “We had some wide-open baskets and they just didn’t finish. Maryville made big plays when we didn’t down the stretch, and that’s something you have to learn.
“Hopefully we’ll get better at that as the season goes on and the tournament comes around.”
The Lady Rebels also trailed by as many as 13 in the first half but reeled off 21-4 run over a six-minute, 10-second stretch wrapped around halftime.
Taylor scored a game-high 19 points for Maryville, and Carruthers added 13. Harig tallied a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds for Heritage while senior Kayla Romines posted 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Friday marked the Lady Mountaineers’ second consecutive loss after winning six in a row.
“If we can get everybody on the same page, I think we’ll make some noise in the tournament,” Howard said. “I know this: Nobody would want to play us in the tournament. We’re playing everybody close, but close isn’t good enough here at Heritage. You got to win.”
Heritage almost did Friday, but Maryville clawed its way to another victory.
“I liked our grit — we never quit,” West said. “A lot of people probably went to go get popcorn because they thought it was over, but I don’t sleep on this team and I don’t think anybody else should either.”
Maryville boys 68, Heritage 40: The Rebels (16-1, 7-0) scored 29 unanswered points during an eight-minute, 51-second span in the first half to pull away from the Mountaineers for their 12th consecutive victory.
Maryville starters did not get a lot of run in the second half, and all 10 player who played scored. Junior point guard Joe Anderson led the Rebels with 12 points. Junior Joseph Burroughs tallied nine points, while Drew Crowder, DaVon Kimble, Elmo Gara and Emilio Cornelio each scored eight.
Jacob Powell scored a game-high 17 points for the Mountaineers (1-13, 0-7) and Peyton Burnette added 10.