FORTVILLE — The Mt. Vernon Marauders entered the season with a big question to solve: who are we?
On Tuesday night, they took a large step toward answering their own riddle.
Trailing early for the third time this year, the Marauders didn’t fall victim to past trends. Instead, the new-look group rallied back with a strong second half to defeat visiting Lawrence Central 45-30.
The win extended Mt. Vernon’s streak to two consecutive and five straight against the Bears, whom the Marauders are 8-1 against the past 16 years.
The last time Mt. Vernon lost to Lawrence Central was in 2011-12. At 1-2 on the year prior to the game — their first sub-.500 start since 2009-10 — the Marauders defended their home court with a solid 12-2 run in the fourth quarter.
“It’s been a team effort all year,” Mt. Vernon head coach Steve Doud said. “I’m really proud of the girls. They played as a team. They worked hard the whole game.”
The Marauders (2-2) fell behind 9-7 after the first quarter but charged back in the second with a 10-0 run to pull in front 17-12. The Bears cut the deficit to 17-16 by halftime and tied the game at 25-all in the third.
Ahead 28-26, the Marauders flipped the switch in the fourth quarter, led by seniors Megan Gawrys and Hanna Johnson.
A Johnson post shot off an assist from Kaitlin Dunlavy kicked off their final run.
“They fought through some mistakes,” Doud said. “And we made shots.
“This group right now, everyone is figuring out roles. How can each player contribute to the team in a positive manner? And we’ve made strides, from the first game to now.”
In their past three games, the Marauders led only once after the first quarter and won 32-19 against Connersville on Friday. In the others, they lost.
Gawrys’ team-high 13 points warded off defeat. The guard scored five points in the fourth, including the second of back-to-back 3-pointers started by Johnson.
Gawrys’ trey pushed the Marauders lead to 11 points at 39-28 with 2:57 remaining. She split a pair of free throws to put the Marauders up 40-28.
“Megan and Hanna made some key shots. They’re both seniors and have been on the varsity for three years. You have to count on your seniors to step up, and they did,” Doud said.
Johnson finished with 10 points and Sophie Williams, a junior, had 12 points and nine rebounds. She added three assists, including the back-breaker to Gawrys’ from deep.
Mt. Vernon hit 3 of 4 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and five overall with three going to Gawrys. The team shot a blistering 71 percent from the field in the final eight minutes.
“We have to keep climbing because we want to keep going further up,” Doud said.
Onayae Young led the Bears with 14 points. Keyaira Murff had 10 rebounds.
The Marauders travel to Rushville on Friday before returning home on Saturday. Six of Mt. Vernon’s first seven games are at home, ending with rival Hamilton Heights on Nov. 26.