FORTVILLE — After allowing just 20 points per game in its past three contests, Class 4A No. 15 Mt. Vernon kept its defensive domination alive Friday, forcing visiting Rushville into 14 first-half turnovers en route to the team’s sixth-straight win.
Butler commit Sydney Shelton tallied 21 points in the first half and fellow senior Ariana Sandefur registered five steals as the Marauders (6-0) cruised to a 64-41 victory.
Coach Steve Doud said Mt. Vernon’s defensive gameplan, a 3-2 zone, worked exceptionally well in the first half.
Story continues below gallery
“They were big inside. Part of their offense is to throw the ball in the corner, so we wanted to trap it, and it was very effective,” Doud said. “We just wanted to apply a lot of pressure. We took advantage of it in the first half.
“I bet we had at least 12 points on turnovers from them (first half) and that’s huge.”
Shelton, who has scored just more than 25 ppg this season, hit three 3-point field goals in the first eight minutes to give Mt. Vernon a solid start in front of its home fans. Mt. Vernon led 23-9 after one quarter of play.
Shelton added 12 points in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 29 as the Marauders held a 36-20 lead at the break.
However, Rushville (0-4) would not go away quietly.
The Lions came out attacking the offensive glass, cutting Mt. Vernon’s lead to 13 points midway through the third quarter after a layup from freshman Taylor Browning, who finished with seven points in the loss.
“In the second half, I thought our intensity was still there but our rebounding wasn’t,” Doud said. “We gave up eight offensive boards in the first four minutes.
“Everybody’s getting into the groove. We have some pieces that are a little different this year.”
Mt. Vernon was able to outscore Rushville 10-2 the rest of the quarter and never looked back.
Lions junior guard Kaitlyn Howe entered Friday’s contest leading the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game. She was limited to just five points in the first half but finished with 14 in the game.
Sandefur went down with an ankle injury late in the game and is scheduled to receive an X-ray today.
“We are staying optimistic,” Doud said.
The Marauders junior varsity team lost 37-29.
Mt. Vernon returns to action today with a trip to East Central (4-0) followed by a home game Wednesday against Westfield (4-0). Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.