SHELBYVILLE — Travis Daugherty’s halftime speech must have been a good one.
Down three at the break, Mt. Vernon came out of the locker rooms angry at Shelbyville on Friday — and on a mission. Daugherty, the Marauders’ fourth-year head coach, picked the right words to say.
It especially motivated senior Erick Shepherd. The 6-foot-6 forward did not miss a shot from the field in the pivotal third frame Friday, going 5 of 5 for 10 points as the Marauders used a 12-0 run to take a take a 62-47 lead at the end of the quarter.
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Shepherd’s hot streak continued into the fourth when he hit his first two shots en route to an 83-74 win for Mt. Vernon, which outscored the Golden Bears 29-11 in the third quarter.
Shepherd would finish with 19 points, while senior guard Michael Ertel finished with a team-high 22. Junior guard Damari Gatewood was equally effective against Shelbyville, especially from behind the arc, and added a career-high 21 points. He finished with four 3-pointers, three of which came in the second half.
For Shepherd, though, it was more about being assertive with the ball in the second half.
“I was more aggressive (second half) and focused more on hitting shots,” Shepherd said, who missed all three of his attempts in the second quarter. “It really came down to focusing more.
“We really talked about stepping up our defense, too. Our defense led the fast break points and didn’t let them get set.”
Last season, Mt. Vernon (3-4, 1-1 Hoosier Heritage Conference) topped Shelbyville, 71-60, at home. The Golden Bears (2-4, 0-2 HHC) lead the overall series (last 30 years) 15-10, although the Marauders have won five of the last six contests.
Losers of three straight contests this season, including overtimes losses to Connersville and Columbus North, Shelbyville was eager to snap its negative streak against the Marauders with an added toughness on the defensive end.
One of the team’s biggest concerns, Golden Bear coach Ryan Mack said, was stopping the penetration of Ertel, who came into Friday’s game averaging 23.2 points per game. It worked early, until Ertel found rhythm.
Ertel scored 11 points in the second quarter to keep the home team from getting too far ahead. He also added five rebounds in the game and finished 9 of 11 from the free throw line.
Then came Daugherty’s halftime speech.
“We had to be more resilient and aware of what was going on,” Gatewood said of the adjustments at the break. “They were just hitting shots everywhere. We weren’t switching on anything like we were supposed to.”
In the first quarter, Shelbyville jumped out to an early 8-2 lead after a driving score by 5-8 sophomore guard Josh Williams. Ertel then hit his first three of the game to spark a Marauders run. Ertel, who finished with 15 points in the first half, dished out an assist on Mt. Vernon’s next basket, this one to Shepherd, as the Marauders completed a 10-0 run.
Leading the Golden Bears by one after the first quarter, Mt. Vernon went cold from the field in the second, finishing 5 of 17, which allowed Shelbyville to take a 36-33 after two quarters of play.
Several layups were missed in the frame but Ertel’s veteran play was enough for the Marauders to hang around.
Mt. Vernon finished the first half 12 of 30 from the field, while Shelbyville finished 13-for-30. For the game, the Marauders shot 24 of 50 (48 percent). The Golden Bears were 24-for-56 for the game (43 percent). However, Mt. Vernon shot 27 of 35 from the charity stripe, while the Shelbyville was 17 of 21.
Also for the Marauders, senior forward James McCloud led the team with 10 rebounds and added nine points, while teammate Logan Smith, a junior, added 10 points in a well-rounded scoring effort.
Mt. Vernon returns home today for a contest with Mississinewa.