MAIZE SOUTH—The Maize South High School girls basketball team beat Winfield 52-36 on Thursday, Jan. 17, but the game was closer than the score indicated.
Winfield trailed by only three points with 5:44 left in the fourth quarter. Maize South coach Mike Domnick said his squad’s composure down the stretch was significant.
The Mavericks entered their home game with a 4-4 record while Winfield arrived with a 3-6 overall mark.
“I knew it was a toss-up,” Domnick said of his pre-game expectations.
Maize South led 7-2 in the first quarter, but Winfield managed to tie the score 7-7 and then 9-9. The Vikings finished the period with a 7-1 run, including the last four points from sophomore Courtney Griffiths.
Winfield was ahead 16-10 at the beginning of the second quarter, but that cushion evaporated as Maize South dominated until halftime. The Mavericks poured in 10 straight points, and Winfield added only two. Griffiths’ field goal represented the last points scored before halftime, and the Vikings entered the locker room with a two-point deficit, 20-18.
Maize South pushed its lead to nine points, 30-21, in the third quarter. However, Winfield put together a 10-5 run and entered the final stanza at a four-point disadvantage, 35-31.
Domnick said the Mavericks seemed to play wild and out of control, but he credited Winfield for speeding up the home team. He explained that Maize South ran its flex offense in the fourth quarter to wear out the Vikings.
Winfield junior Breanna Pingry, who closed the third quarter with a three-pointer, sank two free throws at the beginning of the fourth. The Mavericks scored the next four points, but Winfield junior McKenzie Thiel drained a three-pointer with 5:44 on the clock. That pulled the Vikings within three, 39-36.
Maize South’s top players took control during a crucial period. Senior McKenna Poynter missed a free throw, but junior Mariah Suchan grabbed the offensive rebound and scored. Following a timeout at the 5:14 mark, Suchan picked up another bucket and then Poynter added a basket. Just like that, Maize South led 45-36.
The Mavericks called for timeout with 3:40 remaining, and from that time until the 2:02 mark, they ran down the clock. Winfield began to foul after more than a minute and a half had elapsed.
Maize South went seven of 12 from the free throw line in the final 2:02 and secured a 52-36 victory. However, Domnick acknowledged that he wasn’t entirely comfortable to see his team in that position.
“We are the worst free-throw-shooting team,” he admitted. “ … I would prefer not to shoot free throws.”
Suchan scored a game-high 18 points Thursday. Maize South is a young team this year, and Domnick commended Suchan for making good decisions on the court and for not getting rattled.
“Mariah is just a calming presence,” he continued.
Poynter contributed 15 points, which Domnick found impressive since she missed the second quarter due to foul trouble.
Griffiths and Pingry anchored Winfield with eight points apiece. Winfield will take a 3-7 record to the Mulvane tournament next week.
Maize South, now 5-4, will compete in the Pratt tournament. The Mavericks earned fifth place last year in their midseason tournament at Mulvane.