During Friday's home game against Aliquippa, Maplewood's Bailey Varndell looked like she was going to put the team on her shoulders and let the others come along for the ride.
She came into the PIAA opening round contest aggressive - launching the ball confidently from behind the arc and draining two threes early on.
She even drove, was fouled and nailed two free throws. It was the Bailey Vardell show to behold. Understandably she was feeling it and launched another and then another but those didn't drop. A couple in the lane also didn't go. Suddenly she didn't have the team on her back and needed help.
Senior Sadie Thomas seemed to say "no problem, I got you" as she took the reins for the rest of the first quarter. Grabbing a rebound with a couple minutes left she went coast to coast for two, waking up the crowd.
Thomas scored the last six points of the 18-point quarter. She and Varndell had eight a piece with Madison O'Hara sprinkling in another bucket in the mix. The Tigers would've gone into the second quarter up 11 except they allowed Alliquippa's Angel Henry five seconds to make it to half-court to heave a buzzer-beater that hit nothing but net bringing the Quips to within eight.
The Tigers came out cold in the second with sloppy play and many missed field goals. Fortunately, the Quips weren't much better and only scored two to bring their deficit to six, the closest they would get.
The next Tiger to really step up was the tiny freshman Maggie Means who, despite being one of the shorter players on the court, nabbed a huge offensive rebound, tried to put it back up but got hacked. She then sank one free throw to break the two-minute scoring drought. Moments later she got the ball on the outside and drilled a three. Her efforts thwarted any Alliquippa momentum.
The Tigers then all contributed buckets at key moments, but the rest of the way it was clear, get the ball in Thomas' hands. The senior poured in 24 on the night.
Varndell wasn't done either and chipped in a few more ending with a solid 14.
It was an all-round team effort with eight players scoring.
Madison O'Hara and Maggie Means had six each and Madison Eimer pitched in seven. Rhaelynn Joelle had four and the last Tiger points were two free throws from Megan Woge.
Any of these girls are capable of stepping up anytime as Maplewood defeats Aliquippa in opening round of PIAA tournament
Their 65-47 victory was a good rebound from the 73-33 loss to Kennedy Catholic in the District 10 finals last week in Farrell. The win also allows them to move on to the next round of the Class 2A bracket and play Greensburg Central Catholic Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
Eight & 27 focuses on stories centered around Titusville, PA. With the sad end of The Titusville Herald, we're hoping to pick up the slack.