Maryville women begin postseason basketball play in GLVC tourney
By: Warren Mayes
The Maryville women’s basketball team is out to defend its Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship but likely will have to accomplish it without career scoring and rebounding leader Abby Duethman.
The Saints (17-9, 13-5 GLVC) earned the No. 2 seed for the 2013 Deaconess GLVC Tournament. Maryville will face No. 7 seed William Jewell in the quarterfinals 2:30 p.m. Friday (March 8), at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
If the Saints advance to the semifinals, they would face the survivor of the No. 3 Kentucky Wesleyan-No. 6 Indianapolis game Saturday (March 9) in a 6 p.m. game. The championship game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday (March 10).
Maryville is the reigning GLVC Tournament champion. In 2012, the Saints won four tournament games to claim the title and the school’s first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.
Still, it’s a special time for Maryville’s program.
“It was exciting for us to win the GLVC Western Division and get the automatic No. 2 seed based on our season,” Saints coach Chris Ellis said. “The 13 conference wins is a school record since we’ve gone to Division II and competed in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.”
While the Saints will ride a three-game winning streak into the tournament, it does not look good for Duethman, a senior, to see much playing time. Duethman was named the GLVC Player of the Year earlier this week.
Duethman torn an ACL in her knee going to the basket in the game against visiting Rockhurst on Feb. 14. There also was damage done to her meniscus.
“She has been rehabbing and is wearing a brace to stabilize it when she has been doing her individual workouts,” Ellis said. “We are hopeful she can come and play a few minutes and hopefully we can keep winning which will increase the probability of her playing some more as time goes on.”
Duethman averaged 15.9 points a game this season before her injury sidelined her. She had 1,463 points and 633 rebounds to rank first in Maryville history.
Naturally, it’s difficult to lose a proflic player like Duethman.
“It is tough on any team to lose a player of Abby’s caliber,” Ellis said. “She has meant so much to our team and program since she came here as a freshman in 2009. Not only is she the best player in the conference, she’s one of the best people as well.
“So we miss her in all facets of our game both on and off the court.”
But the games go on despite injuries. The opportunity is there for others to step up for Maryville.
“Well, like I told (junior) Samantha Robison, who has started in her absence that she goes up against the best player in the conference every day in practice so there is nothing in a game that she cant handle,” Ellis said. “Sam has performed extremely well and the team has responded because they know they have to.”
William Jewell has beaten Maryville twice this season.
The Cardinals are 18-9 overall, 12-6 in the GLVC and have won five straight games including an 84-73 victory over Bellarmine in the first round of the GLVC Tournament. Chelsea Meeks leads the team with 13.8 scoring averages. Meeks also has 92 assists this season and leads the league with 3.3 steals per game. Katlyn Wood adds 10.8 points a game and pulls down 6.3 rebounds per game. She is the top shot blocker in the conference at 2.0 per game.
William Jewell leads the league in free throw percentage (76.6), steals per game (12.6) and turnover margin (plus 6.3).
The Cardinals won the first meeting 72-64 at home Jan. 17 and edged the Saints 62-59 in St. Louis Feb. 16.
“Every time we play Jewell the game is decided by 6 points or less and it comes down to a single possession,” Ellis said. “We have to take care of the ball and defend their potent 3-point shooters and really play as a team, as I think their five are as cohesive as any team I’ve ever coached against. I also think making shots early will make a big difference for us as well.”
Senior guard Brittnye McSparron scores 12 points a game for Maryville. Sophomore guard Shelby Miller has hit 59 3-pointers and is averaging 11.3 points a game. The Saints are second in the GLVC in scoring defense at 57.3 points a game, scoring margin at plus 11.1 and field goal percentage defense at .360.
Ellis is happy with how his girls have performed this season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group of upperclasswomen who have taken our program from the bottom as we transitioned from Division III to the top of the GLVC in just three years,” Ellis said. “We are excited for a chance to keep our title and hopeful we bring our best effort to Evansville this weekend.”
The GLVC has partnered with America One to video stream all games of the Deaconess GLVC Tournament on-line. Links can be found at www.glvcsports.com. If the Maryville reaches the GLVC Championship game Sunday, Saints fans can listen to “Voice of the Saints” Jim Powers on maryvillesaints.com/showcase.