FORTVILLE — In front of a packed crowd, one so big that the student section had to be divided into two parts, the Mt. Vernon Marauders boys’ basketball team finally had an easy game for a change.
After three straight contests decided by seven or fewer points, the Marauders let loose on the Rushville Lions and won 77-52, their second-largest margin of victory this season.
For coach Travis Daugherty, the big win didn’t have so much to do with who the Marauders (10-2) were playing, but rather that his team was playing to the potential he believes they’ve had all season.
“I don’t think it was as much about the opponent as it was about us,” he said. “We were really sharp right away and played well in probably the longest stretches we’ve had all season.”
The Marauders looked much improved on defense hardly allowing anything in the paint and forcing the Lions to look outside for shots. Mt. Vernon forced 18 Lion turnovers and turned nearly each one into an easy bucket.
“We’ve been trying to emphasize improvement defensively,” Daugherty continued. “They made a few tough shots, but for the most part they had to work hard for what they got.”
Their great defensive effort gave the Marauders many opportunities at the other end. Great passing turned those chances into made shots and Daugherty was very pleased with how well his team shared the ball.
Altogether, Mt. Vernon tallied 13 assists with Miles Wayer accounting for six of them.
“When we share the ball like we did tonight, we can potentially be a very dangerous offensive team,” Daugherty said. “We’ve got to continue to trust one another, to move (the ball) on to the next guy and believe that he’s going to make the right play.”
One player that was able to manufacture shots on his own was Erick Shepherd. He muscled his way through Rushville’s length for 18 points and out hustled them for a team-high six boards.
Against similar height, Shepherd wasn’t at much of a physical advantage, but coach Daugherty noted that when he gets going there’s not much that can stop him.
“His motor was on full-steam tonight,” Daugherty remarked. “He was running hard, guarded hard and made a great effort getting to the glass. When you do all those things, play as hard as you can and you have his talent level, then a lot of good things are going to happen.”
The Marauders will play the second game of their three-game home stand tonight against Class 2A fifth-ranked Indianapolis Howe. The Hornets (10-3) got the better of Mt. Vernon last season in a tight contest that was only decided by three points.