For The Daily Reporter
PENDLETON — Finding a way to stop the Pendleton Heights Arabians’ one-two punch of Kenton Dunham and Mark Albers was no easy task for the Mt. Vernon Marauders.
Averaging 15 and 17 points, respectively, the duo shoulders the scoring load for the Arabians.
Yet, thanks to some gritty defensive play and some poor shooting and a little foul trouble by Albers, the Marauders (4-1, 1-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) cruised to a 69-55 win against the Arabians.
The Marauders stuck to Albers and Dunham like glue for much of the game, but they were still able to score 40 of the Arabians points. Mt. Vernon coach Travis Daugherty knew it was going to be tough but liked what he got from his players on defense.
“You’ve got to be in Albers pocket or it’s automatic and the fact that we were able to extend the lead with him on the bench was huge,” said Daugherty. “Dunham and Albers are tremendous on the perimeter and they compete as hard as anybody on our schedule year after year, so for us to come in here and win says a lot about our team.”
With the Arabians’ (2-3, 0-1 HHC) two stars held mostly in check the Marauders countered with their own dynamic duo in Michael Ertel and Erick Shepherd. Ertel scored 23 points for the Marauders but Shepherd’s play in the paint was the difference maker.
“He played with a huge heart tonight,” Daugherty said. “He’s a super talent, and when his heart comes out like that, I think he’s an elite player in our area and capable of dominating a game.”
Shepherd finished the game with 14 points off of 5-for-8 shooting and hauled in 12 rebounds. Nine of his boards came on the defensive end where he easily shook off the shorter Arabian players.
“He had a huge impact on the game on both ends,” Daugherty continued. “When he plays that way, we’re pretty good.”
Also shining brightly for the Marauders was Michael Thompson who only missed two shots in the game. Thompson, who went 3 of 5 from the field and sunk all four of his free throws chipped in 12 points to make guarding the Marauders even more difficult.
“When you put a third shooter in, it’s tough to play a triangle-and-2,” Pendleton Heights coach Kevin Bates said. “He hit a big three for them and got them going in the fourth, and we weren’t able to score on the other end.”
The Marauders will have a week off to prepare for their next conference game against the Shelbyville Golden Bears. Mt. Vernon is 1-1 against Shelbyville under Daugherty, including a 76-55 win last season.