Mayfield knew it had to play a near-perfect game to upset visiting Walsh Jesuit on Thursday.
The Wildcats pushed the Warriors to the limit but fell short of their goal, 42-39.
“We knew going in that Walsh was an excellent team and very well-coached,” said Mayfield coach Ryan Looman. “They do a lot of things that force you to adjust your game and, obviously, they try to take you out of your comfort level. They have a nice combination of length, speed, and shooting as well. I think tonight showed what we are capable of when we are locked in and ready to go. Playing team basketball and giving a relentless effort can put you in a really good spot. To have it happen on a back-to-back when we didn’t play well at all the night before is also a very positive step forward.”
Mayfield was in a position to win the game as the Wildcats held a slim advantage midway through the fourth quarter.
Four missed free throws and a few missed buckets allowed the Warriors to pull ahead.
“As Walsh came back, once we got under 90 seconds to play, it was still a 40-39 game and we had the opportunity to finish at the rim or take the lead at the free throw line and just didn’t capitalize,” Looman said. “The free throws are just rep and focus but if we want to beat the good teams we play, missing those close looks can be devastating. We had clean looks tonight, they just didn’t fall.”
Walsh led at halftime, 23-20, but the Wildcats rallied to tie the game after three.
“For us tonight, it all started on the defensive end,” Looman said. “We played a really solid game al-around. We saw how Walsh could get out and run on tape and we wanted the play the game at a slower pace. We had great communication and rotations as well. I also thought when we were patient on offense we manufactured some really good looks on that end and we are able to connect on some.”
Hannah Peterson led the Wildcats with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Uriah Jennings also scored in double figures with 10. Ashley Dearden and Reagan Sovchen both contributed with six. Elana Zebrowski scored three points.
Alex Duncan posted a team-high five assists.
“It was good to see Reagan Sovchen step up in some big minutes for us tonight. She can change the game for us when her shot is falling and the two 3-pointers she hit tonight came at the perfect moment,” Looman said. “Alex Duncan didn’t score many but she was superb on defense and leading our attack against their pressure. She’s such a tough kid and as a sophomore, she’s seen a lot this season. To see her continued maturity and growth is great.”
Mayfield dropped to 6-7 on the season but the Wildcats learned a lot from the setback and are heading into the second half of the season with a lot of confidence since opening the season with a 1-5 record.
“I’m excited to see how this team continues to grow, “Looman said. “From the performance we put out there against the Nortons and the Perrys early in the year to what we saw tonight has been night and day.”
The Wildcats host South on Saturday.