One by one, the Maumelle Hornets are obtaining their goals.
After winning the 4A-4 conference title, the Hornets (20-7) captured the 4A-4 district championship last week with victories over Dardanelle and Subiaco. Next goal is winning the 4A-North regional tournament held this week in Lincoln.
Maumelle faces Gravette, the No. 4 seed from the 4A-1 district, at 8:30 p.m. today. Just one victory guarantees the Hornets a spot in the 4A state tournament next week in Lonoke. However, they would like to keep pace with their objective and win the tournament. Maumelle Coach Michael Shook likes the way his team is playing and just needs to focus on a few things.
"We’re not shooting as well," he said. "We’ve spent a lot of time of that because our shooting has been poor especially from the three-point line and free throw line."
In Gravette, the Hornets face a team with an exceptional guard and post player. Senior Terence Pierce scored 26 points against Maumelle last year in the regional tournament and is averaging close to 30 points a game. Senior Otto Troutner is a 6-foot-7 center who Shook says can post around the basket but can also run the floor and is averaging 20 points a game.
"Pierce can score from anywhere, can drive and run the fastbreak," Shook said. "They have one of the best guards and post players in our conference, but other than that don’t really impress me. We’re a little quicker and more athletic. I think if we keep coming at them, we’ll wear them down."
In the district tournament, Maumelle defeated Dardanelle, 75-47. After just owning a 35-30 lead at the half, the Hornets outscored the Sand Lizards, 40-17, in the second half. Senior Kendall Donnerson and junior Tyshun Robinson paced Maumelle with 13 points apiece with senior Nick Cox adding 10.
The Hornets had to battle in a 59-55 victory over Subiaco in the tournament finals last Saturday. With two and a half minutes remaining in the contest, they were up by eight points. But, missed one-and-one opportunities and a couple of three point baskets by the Trojans’ Cash Kruger saw Maumelle’s lead dwindle before pulling out the win. Donnerson had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and senior Ron McCuien finished with 11 points. The thing that stood out for Shook was that Subi was 8-of-9 from the free throw line while Maumelle was 9-of-22.
"Both teams competed hard, and it was a really great game," Shook said. "Several parents talked about how impressed they were by the effort of both teams."