Marmaduke Junior Lady Greyhounds Complete Perfect Season
The Marmaduke Junior Lady Greyhounds completed their perfect season Saturday, beating Sloan-Hendrix 39-31 in the 1A-2A District 4 championship game at Imboden. Rolling into the game on a 28 game winning streak, despite a scare in the semi-finals, the Lady 'Hounds were poised to make history-- with only another set of Lady Greyhounds standing in their way.
Playing without the services of All-Conference center Emma Foster, who had season-ending ACL surgery earlier in the year, the Marmaduke girls battled-from-behind early, and held-on late, to post the win.
As often occurs with a late-morning tip-off, both teams came out a bit cold in the first quarter. As a result, the Lady 'Hounds missed several perimeter shots, as they attempted to establish the outside game against the rangy Sloan-Hendrix squad. The host team answered with six points in the paint by top-scorer Natalie King, as they pushed to a 13-9 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
Making adjustments on the fly, the Lady 'Hounds battled back with strong defense in the second quarter. Maggie Mays hit a three-point basket and a free throw, while Katie Gilliam and Angel Johnson added field goals as they outscored their counterparts 10-4 in the frame to take a 19-17 lead into the locker room at the half.
Throughout the second half the Marmaduke girls were able to maintain the lead, as they slowed the game down. Depending on the quickness of their guard play, the Lady 'Hounds held Sloan-Hendrix at bey throughout the remainder of the contest.
Scoring when they needed to, and killing clock when they could, the Marmaduke girls outscored the Lady Greyhounds 12-8 in the third, as they took a 31-25 lead into the fourth. Down the stretch the Marmaduke girls continued to baffle the Sloan-Hendrix defenders with the ball control game, as they enjoyed an 8-6 edge in the frame to set the final score.
"I thought our defense played much better,"Coach Rick Smith said of the win. "They had a good plan to try to take away our two best--and he knew I was just hard-headed enough to let them other three beat him, and luckily they did."
The Lady 'Hounds were paced by 10 points each from Gilliam, Heidi Robinson and Johnson, while Mays finished with 8 and Reesa Hampton contributed a free throw.
"We missed a lot of lay-ups and free throws in the first half, like 10 layups and 9 free throws, and normally we don't do that. But, they had a good game plan and it was a great battle," Smith said of the victory.
The Lady 'Hounds head coach did note King posed some match-up problems due to the absence of Foster, but he felt the squad handled the challenge well.
"Probably the best post player in the conference, Emma (Foster), isn't playing. But, we've adjusted to it pretty good," he offered. "They're long and they do a good job. You know it was a good battle for the championship, you want to have a good close one for the championship game."
With the win the Junior Lady Greyhounds complete the perfect season they sought when the campaign began, as they finish at 29-0 and as regular season and conference tournament champs.
Smith attributes the success the squad has enjoyed to the hard work they've done in the gym this year.
"They've continued to come in at 6:15 or 6:30 in the morning and work hard and shoot, and if they hadn't of worked so hard they may have folded there," he said of the late game Sloan-Hendrix rally. "A lot of teams would have, but when we got up six we were just gonna hold it and see if we could get a layup or a free throw. It's the same way we've done the last few years in senior high, and it's worked out pretty good for us."
Following the contest Hampton, Gilliam, Johnson, Robinson and Foster were named as All-Conference players. And, shortly afterward Smith and the other girls headed to Cotter where the Lady 'Hounds advanced in the senior district with a lopsided win over Flippin.