MAYPEARL — Maypearl rode senior Maddie Creech's double-digit outburst to its third consecutive victory and continued its undefeated run in District 17-3A girls' high school basketball.
A first half of lockdown defense didn't hurt, either.
The Lady Panthers outscored Rio Vista High School 58-34 on Tuesday night at Maypearl High School Gymnasium, turning the Lady Eagles' turnovers into a 24-point blowout.
"Our defense has been a big part of our season, much less the game," said Greg Kudrna, the Lady Panthers' first-year head coach. "Our zone has been solid all year and we have started applying a full court press as of late. That, more than anything, was the key to the victory against Rio."
Led by Creech who scored 20 points on 7-for-16 (44 percent) shooting from the field and 2-for-4 (50 percent) shooting from behind the 3-point line, the Lady Panthers hit 38 percent of their field goals and sunk five of their 11 free throws.
"We did shoot the ball a lot better Tuesday, which always helps your defensive effort," Kudrna continued. "We continued to have balanced scoring and looked for our open teammates — which has also been a big part of our success this season."
Creech wasn't the only one filling up the stat sheet, though.
All but one of the Lady Panthers added at least one basket and six scored three or more points. Junior Phylicia Grimes was the team's second-leading scorer with 10 points and juniors Kynlee Herrin, Alyssa Holder and Meredith Keasler each chipped in six.
The goal and the Kudrna's urge, however, has been a message of defense. Through the eight games, the Lady Panthers have limited opponents to 46 or fewer points.
Against Rio Vista, they earned their fifth-highest steal total of the season. Only their performances against Rice (24), Castleberry (22), Mildred (21) High Schools netted higher totals.
During the undefeated run through their district schedule, opponents averaged only 30 points per game. That singular aspect, Kudrna said, is what will define how their season ends and the final score against rival Grandview High School.
"We talked about how important it is to be 6-0 and taking care of business to put ourselves in a position to make a playoff run," he said. "Offensively we need to shoot well, but our defense will be the key factor in the game. We will have to control our turnovers. We have been able to create open looks so far this season, but Grandview is a pressing team. The rivalry makes it a great game but since we are both undefeated will make it even more interesting. These kinds of games the players and coaches love to play."
Maypearl will face Grandview in the first installment of a matchup dubbed as "The Battle over FM 916" at 6:15 p.m. Friday at GVHS Gymnasium. Like their rival, the Lady Zebra's are on a three-game win streak and have a 56-26 all-time winning record against Maypearl.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.