No. 1 Gruver routs San Saba in 2A state semifinals
SAN ANTONIO — Gruver needed a spark.
The Lady Hounds, who had been rolling on offense the past several weeks, could not get going nor find a way to get the ball to get into the basket in a Class 2A state semifinal Friday morning against San Saba.
Enter Bailey Maupin.
The senior guard poured in a game-best 22 points, which included a pair of buckets in the second quarter that was the catalyst to Gruver securing a 69-29 win over the Lady Dillos.
The Lady Greyhounds battled through a back-and-forth first quarter where each player in the starting lineup notched at least two points as both teams looked evenly-matched.
Brenna Butler provided a five-point scoring cushion after draining a jumper to provide Gruver with a 13-8 advantage that stood as the first quarter came to a close.
The Lady Hounds caught fire and turned up the heat the rest of the way.
"This team can shoot the ball," Gruver coach Trent Lankford said. "We've got multiple scorers on this team. I thought we did a really good job of finding the open girl and knocking down the shot. ... These kids can shoot the ball and they spend the time doing that. That's big this time of year especially on this stage."
Maupin drained two shots from beyond the arc to start the second quarter, junior guard Kimber Whitehead converted a deep shot of her own, and Maupin capped off the sequence with a steal and driving layup to force San Saba into a timeout down 24-10 following an 11-2 run.
Gruver ended the second quarter by outscoring San Saba 26-8 behind 16 points from Maupin and propelled themselves into halftime with a 23-point lead (39-16).
""(Gruver) had some nerves and they were trying to get used to what we were doing," San Saba coach Chris Jost said. "Offensively, they settled down first and got into their flow and hit some shots. Then, they were off and running."
The Lady Hounds converted a high-percentage of shots from the field (23-of-43), from three-point land (8-of-16), and at the free throw line (15-of-16).
They outscored the Lady Armadillos 28-3 off of turnovers and 16-0 on second-chance opportunities. As a team, Gruver combined for 15 assists on the offensive end and totaled 14 steals with their quick-twitched defense.
"We just started getting steals and started playing our defense that we played all-year," Maupin said. "Our defense translated into offense and really helped us get that spark going."
Gruver is a team that excels at the fundamental parts of the game and used a combination of terrific shooting, accurate passing and lockdown defense to clinch their spot in the title game as they attempt to win it all for the second time in the last three years.
The Lady Hounds (32-0) are set to battle Stamford for the state championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Lankford and his squad will rest up and mentally prepare themselves for the challenge that lay ahead while also knowing that his team's veteran experience should give them an advantage.
In particular, there is one area of the game where Lankford knows his unbeaten team will not be lacking come tip-off time.
"If there's one thing this team doesn't lack it's confidence," Lankford said. "They're very confident in their abilities. They're very confident in each other and I think that comes from playing for each other. They've done a tremendous job of that all year. I think going into Saturday's game we'll be fully confident and ready to roll against whoever it is."
No. 20-ranked San Saba finished its season with a record of 31-8. The Lady Dillos were coming off a 40-point win over Normangee in the regional final last Saturday, ending a drought of five straight losses in regional finals.
It was the second state tournament appearance in program history, along with the 2011 San Saba girls, who also lost in the state semifinals.
Gruver 69, San Saba 29
San Saba 8 8 8 5 — 29
Gruver 13 26 16 14 — 69
GRUVER — Bailey Maupin 22; Camryn Armes 11; Kimber Whitehead 10; Callie Conyers 9; Brenna Butler 8; Allie Sparks 5; Jaylee Lane 2; Kami Whitehead 2
SAN SABA — Lexy Amthor 10; Landri Glover 10; Jenna Lambert 4; Olivia Sebastian 3; Nojemi Martinez 2.