MARTINSVILLE — Able to overcome a late lapse in efficiency during the morning session to win, the Mt. Vernon Marauders couldn’t repeat the feat Saturday night during the 2017 John Wooden Classic championship game.

Facing Castle in the final, Class 4A Mt. Vernon fell behind by 22 points in the first half and could never recover, losing to the Class 4A Knights 89-70.

The loss marked the second time in as many years the Marauders were defeated by double-digits against the Knights on a neutral court.

Last season, the two programs met in a showcase event at Southport Fieldhouse in early December, with the Knights prevailing 90-70. Castle later turned it on in the postseason to win a regional crown against five-star prospect Romeo Langford and New Albany last March.

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With their sights set on another potential deep state tournament run, Castle didn’t fall below 16 points scored in any quarter against Mt. Vernon, winning its seventh straight game.

In the morning, Mt. Vernon held on to knock off host 4A Martinsville 59-54 and advance into the Wooden Classic title game. Castle (8-3) handed No. 13 4A Lafayette Jeff (7-2) its first loss of the season in the other morning game with a 55-51 overtime victory.

The Knights didn’t slow down despite the additional court time against the Bronchos, however, burying 10 3-pointers against the Marauders as four players posted double-figures.

Castle standout Alex Hemenway, a 6-foot-4 junior, finished with 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the field, while senior Triston Wilkinson had a game-high 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting, including four 3-pointers.

Jace Stieler added 17 points, and senior Zach Messinger chipped in 12.

“Anytime you missed an assignment, they would capitalize on it, so it was extremely tough. When playing against a team like that, you have to be on your Ps and Qs at all times,” said Mt. Vernon senior Logan Smith, who led the Marauders with 25 points. “We’ve been looking forward to a good team like this, but tonight, we just didn’t have enough to pull it through.”

Castle built a 16-10 lead after the first quarter against Mt. Vernon and held a slim 16-13 margin to start the second half before a 19-0 run pushed the advantage to 35-13.

By halftime, the Knights were comfortably ahead 39-20.

“In practice we talked about our defense, but today we just fell behind on everything,” Smith said. “Even in the first game, we struggled, but we got away with it. When you play against Castle, you have to come out and explode.”

Smith did his part with 10 points in the first half and 15 in the second while converting 6 of 7 jumpers from beyond the arc. Against Martinsville (6-3), Smith had six points, but the team netted 11 3-pointers to stave off a late charge by the Artesians.

Junior Peyton Meadors finished with 12 points for the Marauders.

Mt. Vernon recorded 12 treys against the Knights, but it wasn’t enough with Castle drilling 10 of their own in crucial moments.

An 8-0 Marauders run in the third quarter cut the deficit to 12 points, and a 3-pointer by junior Keith Rupert with 6:17 left in the game brought Mt. Vernon within 10 points at 65-55.

However, back-to-back 3-pointers by Wilkinson and Hemenway foreshadowed the Knights’ final 10-2 run to minimize the threat.

“If you’re not all in on the competition, they’ll just steamroll you. We had very few guys in the first half who were engaged in the high-level 4A battle that Castle is in. It was one-sided in every way,” Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty said. “We proved in the second half, we could make the plays and play with them, but it was too little too late against a team like that.”

Through the final 16 minutes, the Marauders matched the Knights’ 50-point second half.

“In the second half, it was better. But when you’re down my 20, it’s hard to congratulate a team on winning the second half when you didn’t put yourself in a position to win the game,” Daugherty said. “That was the disappointing thing for me. I felt like we didn’t understand from a competitive standpoint what it was going to take.”

Against Martinsville, the Marauders learned from past mistakes and banded together after watching an eight-point lead dissipate to three late in the third quarter.

Mt. Vernon posted a 21-point fourth quarter and didn’t allow the Artesians to get any closer than four points the rest of the way.

Meadors led the Marauders with 16 points. Tyler Bostic had 10.

“It was a good win (against Martinsville). This morning’s game, there were multiple challenges,” Daugherty said. “It wasn’t a perfect game, but we made a lot of plays late to build, maintain and even extend the lead. Martinsville came out and beat Lafayette Jeff (in the consolation, 64-51) for another quality win for them and maybe validated for us that that was a pretty good morning game.”

Mt. Vernon has now lost four of its past six contests and returns to action on Friday at Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central at 7:30 p.m.

The Marauders (6-4) are 0-3 in the HHC, while the Cougars (3-5) are 1-1. Last season, Mt. Vernon beat Greenfield-Central 69-42 to extend its winning streak in the series to two straight.

“We’re ready to come off of this loss and capitalize and go out there and make a big statement,” Smith said.

Scoreline

Mt. Vernon 59, Martinsville 54

MV;15;20;3;21;—;59

MHS;13;14;8;19;—;54

MT. VERNON (6-3): Gatewood 2 0-0 5, Bostic 3 2-3 10, Rupert 2 0-0 5, Smith 2 1-2 6, Meadors 3 7-8 16, Morris 3 0-0 7, Gentry 1 2-2 5, Bell 1 0-0 3, Burhenn 0 2-2 2. Totals: 17 14-17 59.

MARTINSVILLE (5-3): Beaver 1 0-0 3, Bastin 1 1-2 3, Staggs 4 4-5 12, Collier 2 3-4 8, Hillman 1 0-0 2, Mock 1 1-1 3, Myers 2 0-0 5, Stead 4 1-1 10, Williams 0 0-0 0, Raventos 2 3-3 8. Totals: 18 13-16 54.

3-Pointers: MV 11 (Gatewood 1, Bostic 2, Rupert 1, Smith 1, Meadors 3, Morris 1, Gentry 1, Bell 1), MHS 5 (Beaver 1, Collier 1, Myers 1, Stead 1, Raventos 1).

Castle 89, Mt. Vernon 70

CHS;16;23;22;28;—;89

MV;10;10;26;24;—;70

CASTLE (8-3): Lockyear 2 2-2 7, Hemenway 5 3-3 14, Goode 1 0-0 3, Stieler 7 2-2 17, Moore 3 0-0 8, Owenn 1 0-0 2, Wilkinson 10 2-3 26, Messinger 5 2-2 12, Heaton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 34 11-12 89.

MT. VERNON (6-4): Gatewood 2 0-0 5, Bostic 2 0-0 4, Rupert 2 0-0 6, Smith 9 1-2 25, Meadors 5 0-0 12, Gentry 3 1-1 7, Bell 3 7, Burhenn 2 0-0 4, Kilburn-Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 2-3 70.

3-Pointers: CHS 10 (Lockyear 1, Hemenway 1, Goode 1, Stieler 1, Moore 2, Wilkinson 4), MV 12 (Gatewood 1, Rupert 2, Smith 6, Meadors 2, Bell 1).

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Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.