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With the season's end approaching rapidly, the Maple Valley girls basketball team got a little experimental in Monday's 55-29 home win over Central Prairie.
Rather than playing their normal 2-3 zone, the Raiders switched over to a 1-3-1 instead.
Though coach Jeff Miller said he was pleased with the results of the defense, it was the second half, when the defense got back to basics, the Raiders thrived.
In the third quarter, Maple Valley outscored the Firebirds 20-2 to take a 47-20 lead.
But early on the game didn't start out as well for the Raiders, who are 12-3 with four games left in the regular season.
Though Maple Valley got ahead right from the opening tip-off, which Cassie Pautz took in for a layup and had a 4-0 lead within the first minute, the Raiders went cold from the floor.
Whether it was jump shots from midrange or 3-pointers, many shots beyond the basic layup had trouble falling in, a trend that continued throughout the game.
Miller credited the issues to simply a tough game shooting, but also said that Central Prairie played well defensively, specifically crediting forward Noelle Moser.
But, starting in the closing minutes of the first quarter, the Raiders responded by tweaking the offense and going for the easy buckets instead. They scored most of their remaining points on layups, including four in the final minute of the first quarter to take a 14-8 lead.
An early layup by Pautz and a 3-pointer by point guard Abbie Tinjim moved the lead to 19-8 with 6:46 left in the game.
Following the three, Firebird juniors Moser and Jordan Spitzer scored 10 of the game's next 12 points to narrow the lead to 21-18 with three minutes left in the half.
In the last three, Maple Valley 8th grader Rylee Nudell hit a midrange shot, which she followed up on ten seconds later by putting back a missed free throw by Tinjum for a layup. Tinjum hit a buzzer beating layup to make it 27-18 going into halftime.
From there, it was all a breeze for Maple Valley.
The Raiders started the quarter on a 16 point run behind Tinjum, Nudell and Pautz, who benefitted from a high-tempo transition game which led to easy runs down the court.
By the time Spitzer scored Central Prairie's only points of the quarter with 2:15 left, it narrowed the lead to 43-20, which Maple Valley extended to 47-20 by the end of the quarter.
Tinjum and Nudell led Maple Valley with 16 points each and Pautz had nine.