Key free throws push Marauders to victory

FORTVILLE — The seniors shined in Mt. Vernon’s last home game against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Yorktown.

Erick Shepherd, who had just surpassed 1,000 career points in their previous game, led the team with a double-double, tallying 30 points and 12 rebounds. James McCloud put up 10 points, Michael Ertel contributed nine and Alex Fouts had six of his own.

These four guys helped the Marauders seal a 68-61 victory and second place in the HHC with a 6-1 conference record.

Despite Yorktown coming into the game with a 2-16 record, the team made 13 3-pointers and ran with the Marauders until the end.

“They were a two-win team coming into the game, but they didn’t play like a two-win team,” Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty said. “We needed to make some plays and I’m proud of our guys stepping up there at the end.”

Neither team had more than a three-point lead for most of the final quarter.

The Marauders traded leads with Yorktown until about two minutes left. The Tigers would toss up a signature 3, then the Marauders would drive in for a post play. This was how it was for most of the game.

“I think our big thing is trying to get the ball penetrated and use our interior guys as much as we can,” Daugherty said. “The result of the shot is maybe not going to be what you want but hopefully we can get a good look and I think we did most of the time tonight.”

After two Yorktown turnovers due to the Marauders’ press, junior Logan Smith came through with a big putback. He flew toward the rim, avoiding three Tigers and neatly found a basket to give Mt. Vernon a five-point lead 62-57.

But the Tigers weren’t quite done. Yorktown’s Brogan Miller drove in for a rare layup, which was followed by two more.

With one minute left, the Marauders led 62-61 and coach Daugherty took a timeout to regroup the team. The team responded.

They drew fouls, made free throws and played solid defense as the clock ran out. Shepherd hit five of his last six free throws to help the Marauders pull away.

“We had a couple of guys make some huge plays late,” Daugherty said.

The game was a tight call throughout. Mt. Vernon’s biggest lead was seven points in the first quarter, but Yorktown hit two 3s to get right back in the game. The Tigers had the lead twice in the second quarter and once in the fourth.

“It was a tough game,” Daugherty said. “Credit to Yorktown for the number of shots they made and for staying in the game.”

Yorktown’s perimeter offense was ultimately not enough against a strong Marauder defense and their offensive play around the rim.

“I just love those guys,” Daugherty said of his seniors. “All four of them have been so important to our program. I just feel lucky to have coached them and I’m really excited for the next week for what’s in store.”

Mt. Vernon (14-8) heads to a tough sectional game against No. 13 Connersville who is 23-1. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. Thursday at New Castle.