FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon’s offense is coming around just in time.
In a battle of defending state champions, the Marauders beat 2A No. 2-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury 62-48 in the regular season finale for both squads.
Sydney Shelton led MV with 27 points and Erica Moore played perhaps her best game since returning from knee surgery, notching 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
The same duo helped the Marauders (15-4) capture a 3A state title last season, but the team’s offense has been hit-and-miss this winter. MV laid an egg in a 47-38 loss to upcoming sectional foe Greenfield-Central on Jan. 24. But Friday’s victory marked back-to-back 60-point efforts for the Marauders, the first such instance this season.
The win was “by far” one of the Marauders’ most complete outings of the year, Shelton remarked.
“I think our offense came from our rebounding and our defense — leading to easy shots and fast breaks,” the sophomore said.
Canterbury, the state’s third-highest scoring team (76.7 points per game) and fresh off a 78-46 trouncing of 4A Hamilton Southeastern, was held under 60 points for the first time this season and only the second time in its last 30 contests.
After a slow start and 11-8 first-quarter deficit, the Marauders outscored the Cavaliers 19-6 in the second quarter. In the final minute of the first half, Shelton converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and Olivia Coleman scored on an offensive rebound to give MV a 27-17 lead at halftime.
To open the third quarter, Shelton sank back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a pair of Maddie Walrod free throws as MV went up 35-21 and led comfortably the rest of the night.
“We all put our minds together that we were going to stop this team,” Shelton said. “And we knew who we were going to stop and we worked together as a team. And we talked for most of the game and just made sure we tried to get out on the shooters.”
Shelton (20.7 ppg) was one of the three standout players taking a 20-plus scoring average into the showdown. Canterbury’s Darby Maggard (21.1) played well and notched a team-best 23 points, but FW teammate Kindell Fincher (28.1) struggled mightily through three quarters.
The five-foot-10 senior guard/forward missed nine of her first 11 field goal attempts and went 1-of-12 from the free throw line. Fincher finished with 16 points, nine of which she collected in the final quarter.
“We tried to contain her and double her a little bit, not letting her drive and make her pull up,” MV coach Julie Shelton said. “I thought we did really well with that early, and then the more tired we got, we let her go quite a bit late.”
Fincher is also the Cavaliers’ leading rebounder at nearly 10 per game, but she had only six Friday as MV won the battle of the boards 32-27.
Coleman pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and Shelton and Sadie Baugh added six each.
Moore, the Purdue-bound senior post, had four rebounds, four steals and one coast-to-coast rebound-layup that showcased her improving mobility.
The 6-1 Moore, in her sixth game back following preseason surgery, was limited to 16 minutes, as will likely be the case in the sectional, MV coach Shelton said.
Those 16 minutes could be crucial to the Marauders’ postseason chances.
“Our offense gets better and better the more minutes Erica can play,” the coach said. “Against good teams … we have not been a great offensive team. But with Erica, there’s a chance of it getting better and better because they have to focus on her so much.”
Moore netted an average of 6.8 points in her first five games.
Along with teammate Shelton, Moore struggled in the loss to Greenfield-Central two weeks ago. The rival squads will meet again Tuesday in the Class 4A Sectional 9 quarterfinal at Connersville. The Marauders are in 4A this season due to increased school enrollment (and the basketball team would have been 4A regardless, because of the IHSAA success factor).
MV’s leading scorer said they’ve already put the loss to the Cougars behind them.
“I think first and foremost, we’re trying to win a sectional,” Shelton said. “So that’s our main goal. Our goal is to win sectional and Greenfield’s the next team in our way to get there.”
Canterbury won five Class A state titles between 2008 and last season and was bumped to 2A this year. The Cavs will take on Adams Central (5-13) in the Sectional 36 quarterfinals at Bluffton on Wednesday.
FW coach Wayne Kreiger and counterpart Shelton shared a pregame hug Friday. Kreiger, formerly a longtime coach at Columbia City, was Shelton’s Indiana All-Star coach in 1989 following Shelton’s senior season at Seymour.
“I’ve worked tons of camps and showcases and stuff with him,” Shelton said. “We’re pretty close.”
Kreiger is in his second season at Canterbury and his career record is 559-229 in 35 years overall. He took over the Cavaliers when son Scott Kreiger left the Canterbury girls to take over the boys program at the school.
Notes: Mt. Vernon registered its fifth straight 15-win season. … Shelton has 901 points in her career. … The Marauders had lost their two most recent games against Fort Wayne clubs; South defeated MV 51-49 on Jan. 31, 2012, and Concordia beat MV 42-39 in that season’s 3A state championship, March 3, 2012. … Friday’s game was varsity-only. … A moment of silence was observed for MV sophomore student Savannah Castle, who passed away earlier this week.
Mt. Vernon 62, Fort Wayne Canterbury 48
FW — Maggard 8-18 4-4 23, VanHouten 0-5 0-0 0, Hoagburg 1-2 0-0 2, Habig 0-2 0-0 0, Hyndman 0-1 0-0 0, Fincher 8-20 1-13 18, Smith 2-2 1-2 5. Totals — 19-50 6-19 48.
MV — Shelton 9-19 5-5 27, Duff 2-3 0-0 5, Stricker 1-1 0-0 2, Sandefur 2-4 0-0 4, Baugh 0-4 0-0 0, Walrod 1-1 2-2 4, Coleman 3-8 0-3 6, Moore 7-10 0-0 14. Totals — 25-50 7-10 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
FW (14-4) 11 6 17 14 — 48
MV (15-4) 8 19 19 16 — 62
Three-pt. field goals: FW 4-19 (Maggard 3-6, VanHouten 0-4, Habig 0-2, Fincher 1-7). MV 5-15 (Shelton 4-10, Duff 1-2, Sandefur 0-1, Coleman 0-1, Moore 0-1).
Rebounds: FW 27 (Maggard 4, VanHouten 2, Hoagburg 3, Hyndman 6, Fincher 6, Smith 2), MV 32 (Shelton 6, Duff 2, Stricker 1, Baugh 6, Walrod 2, Coleman 11, Moore 4). Assists: FW 3 (Maggard 1, VanHouten 1, Hyndman 1), MV 9 (Shelton 4, Duff 2, Coleman 1, Sandefur 1, Moore 1). Steals: FW 4 (Maggard 1, Hyndman 1, Smith 2), MV 9 (Sandefur 1, Baugh 1, Walrod 3, Moore 4). Blocks: FW 1 (Smith 1), MV 1 (Moore 1). Total fouls: FW 12, MV 15. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: FW 14, MV 12.