A game that remained close through much of the first half unraveled quickly for West Forsyth, who fell 52-39 to Maryville (Tenn.) in the opening game of the Wolverine Classic holiday tournament Friday.
The first quarter ended with West up 9-8, but Maryville, led by point guard Kayla Tilley, began to pull away in the second. The Lady Rebels would then go on a 19-9 run in the third to gain a double-digit lead, one they would not relinquish.
"They’re a really good basketball team," West head coach David May said of Maryville. "They battled really hard and deserved to win today."
Tilley finished the day with 21 points, 19 of which were scored in the first three quarters. Her speed and ability to drive to the net without much contention propelled Maryville to its big lead, and her eight third quarter points almost matched West’s total (nine) in that frame.
"We had to do a better job of containing her," said May. "She worked really hard; I really liked her energy level. She’s a tough kid and a really nice player."
To the Lady Wolverines’ credit, they did fight hard and kept the game from getting out of hand. While West trailed for the vast majority of the contest, it never let the game slip out of hand. Given the talent and size of Maryville’s roster and the fact that West was missing star center Jenna Staiti, the final score could have been a lot worse.
"When we were focused and engaged in the game, I thought we did some really good things," said May. "We had some good defensive possessions, some good offensive possessions. We had some kids step up and be aggressive with the basketball to keep the score close.
"That aggressiveness will help us down the stretch. I liked some of the positive spurts we had when we were engaged in the game."
One such spurt, perhaps the biggest one beyond the first eight minutes, occurred at the very beginning of the fourth. Junior guard Conner Parker kicked off the final period with six straight points — giving West a legitimate shot at a comeback and forcing Maryville head coach Scott West to call a 60-second time out.
After the break, however, the Lady Rebels would hold their ground to earn the victory.
Parker, who didn’t register a point in the first half, finished with 11 points, a team-high.
"I think we got the deficit to 10 or 11 towards the end, but they made some plays," May said. "They outworked us on some key possessions.
"When it gets down to crunch time you have to be able to make that extra stop and that extra basket, and we just weren’t able to do that."
West Forsyth returned to action on Saturday, a game that finished too late for this edition. The tournament will conclude on Dec. 30 with seven games. The championship will be held at 6 p.m.