GREENFIELD — In compiling a 31-game conference win streak, the Mt. Vernon girls basketball team faced numerous challenges, halftime deficits and poor shooting efforts.
Through it all, the two-time state finalist Marauders never met an opponent it couldn’t vanquish. Until Friday night.
Greenfield-Central pulled off a defense-fueled 47-38 stunner over Mt. Vernon, handing its Hancock County rival its first Hoosier Heritage Conference loss since November 2009.
“That’s probably what hurts the most,” MV coach Julie Shelton said. “Just the fact that it was a conference game. And Mt. Vernon pride has been big for a long time. We’ve had a lot of good runs.
“And we’ve got a talented team here that needs to figure out that toughness and that pride.”
Greenfield-Central was the team that seemed to finally figure things out Friday. A young squad led by freshman post Maddie Wise, the Cougars (10-5, 4-1 HHC) had been on the verge of a breakthrough before falling in back-to-back games to Fishers (46-27) and Connersville (44-43) early this month.
The Cougars, on their home floor, had a 24-18 halftime lead on Connersville that slipped away.
Friday, host G-C took a 17-10 advantage into the break, then held on.
Mt. Vernon’s Big 3 of Sydney Shelton, Olivia Coleman and Erica Moore went 1-of-14 combined from the field in the first two quarters. Wise outscored MV’s proven scoring trio 10-2 in that span.
“We worked on (a game plan) all week, different things to try to stop their best shooters and their best post players, and it showed tonight,” said Wise, who finished with a game-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, including three blocks in the first quarter to set a defensive tone.
“Mt. Vernon has some really great players. I loved facing them, it’s a great opportunity.”
With Shelton — the county’s leading scorer — Coleman and Moore struggling, MV turned to Shaely Duff and Ariana Sandefur to mount its only serious run. The Marauders, who never led, pulled within 25-22 with two minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter as Duff and Sandefur registered seven straight points.
G-C’s Regan Lewis answered with a 3-pointer to close out the quarter, however, to make it a six-point game with eight minutes to go.
Coleman opened the fourth quarter with a score to cut the Cougars’ advantage to 28-24, but Katie Helgason nailed a 3-pointer on G-C’s ensuing possession, and the home team was in command the rest of the way.
The Cougars closed things out by hitting their free throws; they finished 18-of-24 from the line while MV was just 8-of-17.
From the field, MV shot 23 percent (14-of-62).
“Missed shots and didn’t guard in the second half,” coach Shelton said, summing up MV’s issues. “Ran out of steam. We made a run, got it to three or something and didn’t have enough to finish.
“It’s conditioning. We’re not in very good shape right now. You can see it … our shots were short, we missed free throws. We didn’t find Wise. We just didn’t think, and I think that’s because of being tired. We’ve got to get them in shape.”
Duff led MV with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sandefur had nine points.
Shelton, the sophomore guard receiving a plethora of Division I interest, had three points on 1-of-16 shooting. Purdue-bound Moore, still making her way back from knee surgery, had four points on 2-of-8 from the field. Coleman went 3-of-13 for seven points.
“Sydney’s a great shooter,” said Wise, following what should be the first of many thrilling matchups between her Cougars and Shelton’s Marauders, including a possible 4A Sectional 9 rematch in three weeks. “I will say, she’s probably the best shooter around. Tonight, just wasn’t falling for her.”
Wise got help from Savannah Girolami (eight points), Shelby Oldham (six points, eight rebounds), Lewis (five points, eight rebounds) and Helgason (five points).
Helgason and Girolami guarded Shelton much of the evening.
“Greenfield played well,” coach Shelton said. “Maddie Wise is a great, great player and we didn’t find her as well as we should have and we lost.”
The G-C victory cemented a three-way tie for the HHC lead. The Cougars, Marauders and Pendleton Heights are each 4-1, with one conference game left apiece.
MV went 7-0 each of the previous three seasons and 6-1 in 2009-10 (when the HHC had eight teams). The Marauders opened the 2009-10 campaign with an early loss to Rushville, then won six straight.
For the Cougars, it was their first win over Mt. Vernon since they won the county tourney on Jan. 3, 2009 — Laker’s first season at G-C.
The coach remarked that he sensed this year’s group was coming around the last few weeks.
“You could just tell that we’re getting better and better in practice,” he said. “Connersville game was an awakening for us.
“Tonight, we missed some shots, but our effort was outstanding. It was unbelievable. It was a complete team win, and that’s what we’re all about. It’s about the program. We don’t want to be a great team. We want to be a great program — like Mt. Vernon.”
Notes: Greenfield won the JV game 29-28 in overtime. Madeline Gibson had 13 for the Cougars and Chelsea Ford had 10 points for MV. … Mt. Vernon will host New Castle (13-2) on Tuesday. … G-C can clinch a share of the Hoosier Heritage title with a win at Yorktown (10-4, 1-3 HHC) on Tuesday. … MV’s final conference tilt is at home vs. Delta (5-8, 1-3) Feb. 1.
Mt. Vernon 38
MV — Shelton 1-16 1-4 3, Duff 3-8 4-4 11, Sandefur 4-10 1-3 9, Baugh 0-3 1-2 1, Walrod 1-4 0-0 2, Coleman 3-13 1-4 7, Moore 2-8 0-0 4. Totals — 14-62 8-17 38.
GC — Helgason 2-3 0-0 5, Wise 4-10 12-15 20, Oldham 1-6 4-5 6, Lewis 1-10 2-2 5, Bell 1-6 0-1 3, Conley 0-3 0-0 0, Girolami 4-10 0-1 8, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 13-48 18-24 47.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MV (12-4, 4-1 HHC) 2 8 12 16 — 38
GC (10-5, 4-1 HHC) 6 11 11 19 — 47
Three-pt. field goals: MV 2-14 (Shelton 0-4, Duff 1-2, Sandefur 1-5, Baugh 0-0, Walrod 0-1, Coleman 0-2). GC 3-23 (Helgason 1-2, Wise 0-3, Oldham 0-3, Lewis 1-6, Bell 1-5, Conley 0-2, Girolami 0-2).
Rebounds: MV 38 (Shelton 4, Duff 10, Sandefur 5, Baugh 9, Walrod 3, Coleman 3, Moore 4), GC 37 (Helgason 1, Wise 11, Oldham 8, Lewis 8, Bell 1, Conley 2, Girolami 6). Assists: MV 4 (Shelton 1, Sandefur 1, Coleman 1, Moore 1), GC 4 (Wise 1, Oldham 3). Steals: MV 4 (Coleman 4), GC 2 (Lewis 1, Bell 1). Blocks: MV 1 (Duff 1), GC 4 (Wise 4). Total fouls: MV 20, GC 18. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: MV 6, GC 14.
Mt. Vernon 28, OT
MV — Ford 10, Johnson 7, McClure 4, Riggs 3, York 2, Whyde 2
GC — Gibson 13, A. Flora 7, Gruell 6, Jackson 2, J. Flora 1