Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle were this good together. Then the money got in the way.
It’ll be a while yet before we know if Maryville is Destiny’s new team, but Torie Vaught, Miranda Maples and Kylie Whaley had the Lady Rebels looking that way Tuesday night.
Bearden could find few answers for Maryville’s outsized post trio as the Lady Rebels took a two-game lead in the District 4AAA race with a 59-48 win at James Campbell Gymnasium.
Vaught was almost clinical in the opening half, pumping in 10 points as Maryville (15-2, 7-1 4AAA) built a seven-point lead at intermission.
Whaley hit Maples with a high-post feed from the foul line for an early, second half basket, and the Lady Rebels were soon really cooking, Maples unleashing a quick, eight-point burst.
With two minutes remaining, Alex Breazeale dropped the hammer, the junior guard’s 3 from the right corner pushing the Maryville lead out to 13. Rebekah Singleton (4-for-4), Breazeale (4-for-4), Whaley and fellow senior Carrie Goodson made sure the lead stuck with 10-for-12 shooting from the foul line in the final quarter.
It was no surprise Singleton, a sophomore guard, finished Maryville’s top scorer on the night with 13 points, including a trey. Breazeale had 11. Then there’s the 25 points Vaught (12), Maples (10) and Whaley (3) dealt the Lady Bulldogs (9-5, 6-3) beneath the 3-point line.
“We’ve been preaching all year about putting a complete game together,” Maryville coach Kim Bledsoe said.
It starts with the size Whaley, Vaught and Maples, senior, junior and sophomore, respectively, bring to the equation. Each is a 6-footer. Each must be accounted for around the basket.
“I look for them because if we get it inside, it opens up the outside and that opens it up (the guard’s) game,” Breazeale said.
Then there’s the way their games compliment each other, Bledsoe said.
“We’re really liking that lineup,” she said.
Vaught is burning it up from the foul line down this season, averaging a team-best 13.3 points per game on 54 percent shooting. Her 6.2 rebounds per game are also a team-best.
“Torie brings a presence on offense,” Bledsoe said. “When she plays strong, it’s difficult to stop. Everybody knows they have to defend her.”
An all-district selection a year ago, Vaught is enough to make Maryville a contender all by herself. The arrival of Heritage transfer Maples this season immediately made the Lady Rebels a district favorite.
Maples was an all-district selection as a freshman last season.
“We knew she could help us,” Vaught said. “We want to go to state, and we knew Miranda could help.”
Maples is an explosive athlete off the dribble. Her 7.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, combined with Vaught’s numbers, make Maryville a tough team to defend man-on-man.
“Miranda brings everything to the table,” Bledsoe said. “We’re so different when she’s on the floor just because she’s not afraid to get after it.”
Whaley, an all-district volleyball selection with really quick feet and sure hands around the basket, can then swing a game in Maryville’s favor with either her scoring, rebounding or distribution.
“Kylie fills in the spots that Torie and Miranda don’t fill,” Bledsoe said. “She’s the ultimate role player on our team.”
The conventional move against a team that can put three such players on the floor at the same time would be a zone. Breazeale, Goodson and Singleton have had the answer when they do.
Breazeale, blossoming into a genuinely clutch shooter in her junior senior, ranks just back of Vaught with 12.5 points per game, sinking 41 percent of her shots, 39 percent from 3-point range. The late 3 against the Lady Bulldogs was perfectly timed.
“Our post are really good about pinning and sealing their girls,” Breazeale said. “When they’re double teamed, they’re good at kicking it out.”
Goodson, a Bryan College signee, is just back of double figures with 9.0 points per outing. Singleton, daughter of former Tennessee Lady Vol Suzanne Barbre Singleton, is fourth on the scoring table with 7.5 points per game, adding a team-leading 3.1 assists.
Taken together, the Lady Rebels sit atop the district standings with a balanced offense putting up 56.4 points a night.
“We just want to be hard to match up with,” Bledsoe said.
Next month’s district tournament is closing fast, and there’s still much to be done, Bledsoe said. The Lady Rebels, sitting just off the top 10 in this week’s state prep poll, are still committing far too many turnovers, she said. Foul trouble with her formidable frontcourt is a concern as well.
“I’m still waiting for our post players to step up and play strong against other strong post players,” Bledsoe said.
Maryville has had district-and-beyond contending teams before. Is the Vaught, Maples, Whaley trio the nucleus of Destiny’s team?
Can they continue to share the stage?
The only way to make sure is to continue to take them one at a time, Bledsoe said.
“We’re exactly where we need to be,” she said, “but it’s in our control to keep it where we want it to be. We have control over how we finish the season.”
At this point, Bledsoe said, nothing has been decided.
“I tell them you’ve got to take it one game at a time,” she said. “Every game is as big as the last one.”