BY MARIA LEICHTY
For the Daily Reporter
FORTVILLE — It took a dozen 3-pointers for Mt. Vernon to defeat New Palestine in their Hoosier Heritage Conference matchup Friday night, 76-66.
Mt. Vernon was making them and New Palestine couldn’t stop the arc attack. And that’s the story of Mt. Vernon’s season. There was no better way to honor their seniors than a team-orchestrated 3-pointer barrage ending with five Marauders in double digits.
“We’re always going to shoot a lot of threes,” Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty said. “As long as we’re shooting the right ones and getting them the right way, we usually shoot a high percentage.”
There were two in the first quarter, three in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth. Junior Cade Gentry led the way with four on the night, one in each quarter. He was followed by sophomore Brandon Bell with three, seniors Joe Miles and Tyler Bostic each made two, and junior Peyton Meadors added one as well.
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“Honestly, Mt. Vernon shot the ball really well tonight and that’s the difference in the ball game,” New Palestine head coach Trent Whitaker said. “We just have to do a better job of defending.”
Bell’s 3-pointer in the second quarter was the last lead change in the game. The Marauders went up 20-19 after New Palestine had held the upper hand in the first eight minutes. Six Dragons got on the board in the first. Matthew True led the attack with five points of his own.
Mt. Vernon turned the tides in the second, outscoring New Palestine 19-7.
“We played with much more focus offensively after the first quarter,” Daugherty said. “We settled for a lot of contested threes early and didn’t really make them move or guard much defensively.”
But New Palestine never backed down. After a Gentry buzzer beater to end the half 32-23, New Palestine fought their way back within seven points in the third quarter and within six points in the fourth. They went on an eight-point streak in three minutes.
Mt. Vernon led 65-51 and New Palestine’s press did its job. Gavin Hausz led the charge. He ended with a game-high of 17 points. Maximus Gizzi — in his first game back from injury since Jan. 6 — also had some strong offensive drives.
New Palestine took a timeout with 2:23 to go. After two missed Mt. Vernon free throws, New Palestine had its last glimpse at victory.
Dragons Dawson Eastes got a putback to bring the game within six points again. True found a steal but his open shot from the left wing bounced just shy of bringing the game within a basket.
Marauders Tyler Bostic rebounded and drew the foul. Another New Palestine miss was rebounded by Meadors, who drew another foul and sealed the game.
“Our goal was to get a win and be 5-2 in conference and wrap up second place,” Whitaker said. “We didn’t do that, but give credit to Mt. Vernon and coach Daugherty, they did a nice job tonight and they were ready for us.”
New Palestine drops to 4-3 in the HHC and 11-9 overall. Mt. Vernon moved to 11-8 and evened its record 3-3 in the conference.
Scoring leaders for Mt. Vernon were Damari Gatewood and Gentry with 14 points, Bell with 11, Bostic and Miles with 10, and Meadors with 9. Leaders for New Pal following Hausz’ 17 were Gizzi with 16, True with 14, and Eastes with 8.
Mt. Vernon is graduating three seniors: Bostic, Gatewood and Miles — who transferred in this year.
“[Joe] has really worked hard and been patient to wait for his opportunity and he took advantage of his opportunity tonight,” Daugherty said. “He’s going to be able to help us down the stretch. Ty and Damari both have been solid contributors in our program since day one. Tonight is a reflection of who they’ve been for us for a long time.”
New Palestine’s senior night is tonight against Whiteland and Hausz is their sole senior.
“We’re going to try to get him a win on his last time he plays at home,” Whitaker said. “And hopefully we can build momentum going into sectional. I think we’ll see Mt. Vernon again.”
Mt. Vernon 76, New Palestine 66
NEW PALESTINE (11-9, 4-2 HHC): Hausz 6 3-4 17, Gizzi 5 6-6 16, True 5 2-2 14, Eastes 4 0-0 8, Romine 2 3-5 7, Hook 1 0-0 2, King 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 14-17 66.
MT. VERNON (11-8, 3-3 HHC): Gatewood 5 4-6 14, Gentry 5 0-0 14, Bell 4 0-0 11, Bostic 2 4-5 10, Miles 4 0-0 10, Meadors 3 2-2 9, Rupert 3 0-0 6, Kilburn-Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 10-13 76.
3-pointers: NP 4 (Hausz 2, True 2), MV 12 (Gentry 4, Bell 3, Bostic 2, Miles 2, Meadors). Rebounds: NP 32 (Romine 9, Eastes 5, Hook 5, Gizzi 4, True 4, King 3, Hausz 2), MV 27 (Meadors 8, Gatewood 6, Miles 3, Rupert 3, Bostic 2, Gentry 2, Bell, Burhenn, Morris).