Battle tested: Youthful Lady Hounds ready for UIL’s center stage
The Gruver Lady Hounds celebrate after beating Wellington in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal. Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Despite a youthful team, Gruver head coach Shannon Fisher knew his Lady Hounds had all the intangibles to be playing for a state championship when practices started in late October.
Fisher’s feeling was spot on.
Fast forward to now March, and Gruver is in the madness, competing at the UIL Class 2A state tournament when the Lady Hounds take on Grapeland in a semifinal at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the AlamoDome in San Antonio.
“I felt like our team was really good as freshman and sophomores last season,” said Fisher, who is 113-27 in four season at Gruver. “We pushed Wellington in the regional quarterfinal, and we felt like we were coming on. This year, I knew we had what it took to get to state, and we’ve shown that.”
Gruver (36-2 overall) — which is looking for its first ever girls basketball state championship in now their third appearance, and first since 2015 — started turning heads when they knocked off Nazareth at the Swiftettes Tournament in December, and took Panhandle to overtime in the championship game of that tourney.
From there, this young squad led by sophomore guard Bailey Maupin, who averages 17.8 points a game with six rebounds a contest, freshman Breanna Butler and lone senior starter Maddie McCloy, gelled throughout the season.
The Lady Hounds continued to prove themselves beating playoff teams like Hereford, Dumas and Bushland throughout the nondistrict portion of the schedule.
Gruver rolled through District 1-2A at 10-0, then made its statement during the extremely competitive Class 2A Region I playoffs.
Maupin scored 23 points to help beat a veteran Wellington squad in the regional quarters, Maupin poured in 24 in a win against Stamford in the regional semifinals.
In the regional finals, against a favored Panhandle team, it was the Lady Hounds defense that took center stage by holding the Ettes to 17 percent shooting in a grueling 34-27 victory.
“We’ve been tested, that’s for sure,” Fisher said, “Heading to state, where this Gruver team has never been, we have to stay grounded and remember what we did to get here. I want our girls to enjoy it, because it doesn’t happen often and cherish the moment. But, I want us to go out and show what we can do.”
If Gruver beats Grapeland (34-5), the Lady Hounds will play the Muenster-Mason winner for the state championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
UIL Class 2A state tournament
at Alamodome, San Antonio
Friday’s state semifinals
Gruver (36-2) vs. Grapeland (34-5), 8:30 a.m.
Muenster (35-4) vs. Mason (33-4), 10 a.m.
Saturday’s state championship