RICHMOND – They might have had to drive some 60 miles, but Hancock County residents
piled into their cars to drive to Richmond to see the first Mt. Vernon-New Palestine
sectional final since 1983. And just like in 1983, the Mt. Vernon Marauder fans were the
ones who were driving home on Saturday night, as the Marauders defeated arch-rival New Palestine, 60-57, for their 13th sectional championship and first playing in Class
The Marauders raced out of the gate to an 8-0 lead, but then both defenses dug in. The
halftime score was only 19-15 in favor of Mt. Vernon, despite the evident intensity both
teams brought to the hardwood.
In the third quarter, the Marauders defense continued that intensity and held New
Palestine to six points in the quarter, while breaking out on offense to build an 11-point
lead heading into the final quarter.
The Marauders lead reached as high as 13 in the fourth quarter, and the lead sat at 11 with three minutes remaining.
That is when the Dragons comeback effort kicked into high gear.
Dragon coach Trent Whitaker asked his players to press full court, and the effort paid off.
After scoring eight, seven and six points in the first three quarters, respectively, the
Dragons scored 36 points in the fourth quarter.
With the press resulting in timely turnovers, and the Marauders fouling three-point shooters twice, the Dragons got the lead down to just three points with 15 seconds remaining.
But Damari Gatewood calmly sank two free throws after the ensuing in-bounds, and Mt.
Vernon was celebrating its championship.
With the victory, Mt. Vernon will play next Saturday at the regional in Southport against
Terre Haute South at 10 a.m. The winner of that game will play either Warren-Central (No. 1 in 4A) or Ben Davis (defending 4A state champions) at 7:30 p.m.
See our Tuesday edition for photos and full coverage of the sectional championship game.