FORTVILLE — The Mt. Vernon Marauders looked like they might put another overtime game in the books against the Frankton Eagles Friday night after the first half.
Instead, the Class 4A Marauders used the second half to soundly defeat the 2A No. 3 Eagles 84-67.
The offense was quick and the defense was steady on both sides of the court for the majority the game. The Eagles were out for a victory as their only losses during the season were against other 4A schools — Westfield and Pendleton Heights. But the Marauders had other plans.
Mt. Vernon held a brief lead in the first quarter. For the other 16 minutes, the Eagles were the superior team. They made the shots, they made the steals and they held their ground. But the Marauders weren’t far behind.
Kayden Key and Landon Weins led the Eagles through the first half. Weins scored 12 of his 13 points, and Key scored 10 of his 29 in the first quarter. Marauders Damari Gatewood responded with eight of his own and Cade Gentry tacked on six.
The second quarter was even across the board. The teams moved the ball around and each put up 19. After halftime, the Marauders flipped the switch. Right out of the gate, they decided it was their turn.
“Our energy and intensity in the second half looked a lot more like the team we’ve been in the last couple of weeks,” Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty said.
The solid defense made the Eagles offense blink. The Eagles shot 65 percent in the first half and 27 percent in the second half.
The defense, in turn, kicked the offense into high gear. The Marauders went on a 15-point run at the start of the third quarter. Keith Rupert started it and Jake Morris finished it. Then the Eagles put on their press.
Rupert made his first big 3-pointer, forcing an Eagle timeout with three minutes left in the quarter. After a 65-54 lead at the end of the third quarter, Rupert turned on the heat as the Marauders sprinted to victory.
His second 3-pointer dropped in at the start of the fourth and his third was with three minutes left in the game.
This gave Mt. Vernon a nine-point lead. After a Frankton free throw, he drove back down the court to drain another one. A six-point lead had turned into an 11-point lead.
“Some of those shots were so huge,” Daugherty said. “If he doesn’t make those, then it gets pretty tight at the end instead of just the opposite.”
Frankton kept fighting until the end but its 6-for-22 shooting in the second half was its downfall. Daugherty thought the first half was a step back defensively. But, he said the second half made up for it.
“We just guarded harder and better.” Daugherty said. “(Frankton) just puts so much pressure on you with the way they move the ball. The credit belongs to the guys, they increased their intensity and that was the result.”
Rupert led the Marauders with 22 points, while both Peyton Meadors and Gentry came away with double-doubles. Meadors had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Gentry added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Gatewood provided 12 points of his own. Two big stats for the night were the Marauders’ 13 more rebounds than the Eagles and seven more 3-pointers — thanks to Rupert’s four.
“The beauty of this team is the number of guys we have that can do that on a night,” Daugherty said. “As long as we share the ball and move it around, we should be able to celebrate whoever’s night it is. Saturday it might be somebody new.”
Mt. Vernon moves to 9-7 and will face Noblesville at home on Feb. 3. This was the 2A defending state champs’ third loss, moving their record to 15-3.