FORTVILLE — Timing is everything.
Had Mt. Vernon run into Westfield earlier in the season, coach Travis Daugherty might have called off the dogs a little sooner.
However, with the sectional tournament barely more than a week away and Saturday’s game against Richmond canceled, the coach was not about to let 32 valuable minutes slip through his fingers Tuesday night in Fortville.
That explains why Mt. Vernon’s regulars remained in the rotation until midway through the fourth quarter, by then having built a near 40-point lead.
“This has been a long road of growth for us,” Daugherty said after the game. “We just have to take every opportunity to get better.”
The Marauders finished off the Shamrocks by a final score of 69-33.
The game’s first bucket foreshadowed what was to come.
Mt. Vernon’s Michael Thompson threw down an alley-oop from teammate Michael Ertel and completed the three-point play moments later at the foul line. With that, a clear message was sent: This game would not be the 12-point affair the Sagarin Ratings guessed it would be.
Thompson and Mt. Vernon (12-8) quickly built on that 3-0 lead, using a monstrous 26-point second quarter to take 41-9 advantage over Westfield (4-18) into the break.
The second half began just as the first did — with Thompson slamming home an alley-oop. He finished the game with a team-high 16 points, on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night from the field.
Erick Shepherd supported his sophomore teammate with 14 points of his own to go along with a team-best six rebounds.
Miles Wayer rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points, eight of which came in the second quarter.
“We really just played a complete game tonight,” Daugherty said. “We guarded hard, rebounded well, executed our stuff well on offense. It was as complete a performance as we’ve had all year.”
The Marauders’ suffocating defense combined with some poor Shamrocks shooting (13-of-49) resulted in Westfield’s second lowest offensive output of the season.
This performance came on the heels of Friday night’s defensive gem against Hancock County rival New Palestine, and Daugherty has reason to think the Marauders are coming into their own at the right time.
“On defense, we’re playing very well individually,” he said. “Lots of guys are really committed on that end of the court, and that has made our team defense much better, which is very important.”
Mt. Vernon (4-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference) will look to keep to its winning ways Thursday against HHC foe Yorktown (16-5, 3-3 HHC). With a win, the Marauders would clinch a tie for second place in the league with Greenfield-Central (9-12, 5-2 HHC).
Notes: Mt. Vernon has won 11 of its past 12 games against the Shamrocks, including last season’s 69-47 victory. … Sawyer Olson scored nine points to lead Westfield. Robbie Lynch and Spencer Tebbe each had eight. … In his second season, Daugherty is a victory shy of a .500 career mark at Mt. Vernon (21-22). … Stricker’s eight points were his second-highest total of the season. He scored nine against Indianapolis Northwest in December. … Damari Gatewood scored the first varsity points of his career with a layup late in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game. … Mt. Vernon’s JV team defeated Westfield 41-39. Xavier White led the Marauders with 13 points. Gatewood had 12, and Alex Fouts scored six.