The long drive westward to Liberal, Kansas for the Lady Mavs of Maize South ended with a victory Thursday night as they defeated the Liberal Redskins 43-37 in the first round of sub state 5A competition. Behind a strong team effort and Maize South’s senior Mariah Suchan’s 16 point and 15 rebounds the Lady Mavs will now head to Great Bend Saturday to face off in a substate final for a chance to go to the 5A state tourney next week in Topeka.
Maize South jumped out quickly in the 1st quarter. After a three pointer by Liberal to open the game, Maize South countered with a 9-0 run. Maize South’s junior Alexa Brockel got a jumper to go from the baseline. Then on the Lady Mavs next offensive position Suchan knocked down a three from the top of the key. Sophomore Elizabeth Bally got a put back 2 pointer and then freshman point guard Jaelynne McLaurian knocked down another jumper.
Liberal got another three to fall to cut the lead to 9-6. But the Lady Mavs responded on its’ next two possession, another baseline jumper from Suchan and then a nice layup from McLaurian off a nice pass back from Bally extended the Lady Mavs lead back to 13-6 at the close of the 1st quarter.
After McLaurian opened the 2nd quarter with a three pointer to take the lead to ten points, Liberal started to fight back in the game. After trailing most of the 1st half Liberal took its first lead late 20-19, but Suchan from Maize South got fouled and connected on both free throws to help the Lady Mavs go into the locker room with the lead 21-20.
Both teams opened the second half sluggishly with neither team connecting on many shots. Liberal got another three pointer to fall and took the lead but in the transition follow up position Lady Mav McLaurin was able to sneak through the post defenders to keep the game knotted at 23-23.
Midway through the 3rd quarter Liberal got a jumper to go. That would be the last lead Liberal had in the game and they went scoreless the next 8 minutes. And that’s where the game was taken control of by the Lady Mavs. Maize South’s Suchan tied the game up 25-25 on two free throws. In the next two Liberal possessions Suchan got a steal to start a transition score by Lady Mavs McLaurian. And then a block of another Liberal shot by Suchan and another transition basket by Maize South junior Ellie Staver pushed the lead to 29-25. Staver continued with the hot hand and put down another jumper from the baseline to help the Lady Mavs to a 31-25 3rd quarter lead.
To open the 4th quarter Suchan knocked down a jumper from the right elbow to extend the lead to 33-25. Finally Liberal was able to score again off of two free throws. But Maize South came down and got another jumper to go from Suchan to put the lead right back to 8. At the 2:55 mark of the fourth quarter Liberal got one free throw to go. With the deficit at 7 points Liberal put on a full court press and got a steal and then in their next possession got another three pointer to fall to only trail 35-31.
From there Maize South’s Brockel was able to hit McLaurian on a nice over the top the full court press pass for McLaurian to score a layup. Then Lady Mavs’ Staver and Suchan made free throws the rest of the way to keep Liberal at an arm’s length and win the game 43-37.
The Saturday matchup between Great Bend and Maize South will be played at Great Bend starting at 6pm. Both these teams faced each other in a heated matchup last season during substate with a 2nd half Great Bend comeback win 48-40. It should be a great game with the state ranked Great Bend team trying to get to state and having to go up against a tough Maize South squad led by its’ senior Suchan who’s head to University at Buffalo next fall to play basketball.