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Mid-season hoops report: Mt. Vernon


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SO FAR

12-0. No. 1 ranking. Hancock County champions.

The season could not have started any better for Mt. Vernon, which was voted in Monday as the state’s top 3A team in the latest Associated Press poll.

MV’s only truly close game to this point came when it handed Hamilton Southeastern its only defeat of the season, a 52-49 decision that doubled as the Royals’ first home setback to a non-4A program since Feb. 3, 2007.

The Marauders have also beaten perennial 4A powers New Castle and Pendleton Heights, and dismantled rival New Palestine 60-39 in the semifinals of the county tournament.

Seventh-year MV coach Steve Lynch, who recently garnered his 90th career victory, has been impressed with his group’s ability to turn the page after each of those statement wins.

“The highlight has been their maturity, their business-like approach to playing,” he offered. “My excitement about this group is their consistency and willingness to respond to competition.”

STUDS

Anthony Burnett, CJ Coleman, Stephen Turner and Dan Werner — Part of what has made Mt. Vernon successful is how the team’s players fit the puzzle, and that’s no different with its four most experienced members, Burnett, Coleman, Turner and Werner.

At 18.7 points, Coleman is a smidge below NP’s Michael Morris for the county lead, but is on track to lead the area in 3-point shooting for the second year running (46.2 percent).

Coleman, a junior, is barely ahead of Burnett for the tops in the county in steals (3.0-2.9), but at 6.5 assists, Burnett is the area’s top distributor.

The 6-0 senior guard has three games of nine assists this season, and has traded in buckets — Burnett’s scoring average is down to 5.9 from 9.1 a season ago — in favor of rewarding his teammates.

In wins over Rushville and Howe this past weekend, Burnett filled up the entire stat sheet, registering 26 points, eight rebounds, 15 assists and 11 steals.

“He’s got basketball intelligence. “Saturday night (vs. Howe), we didn’t play real well, but it was obvious he was pushing the train,” Lynch said of Burnett.

“He’s going to give you production and activity.”

Turner, a senior, has been a steady force in the scoring column (14.9 points, four games of 20-plus points) and on the glass (7.1 rebounds are tied for county lead).

Werner has tallied at least six points in all but one game, and the sophomore’s free throw against HSE put MV up by three with 4.3 seconds left.

Lynch’s game-by-game wants for his four captains are simple.

“You expect them to be consistent, he said.”

 

SURPRISES

Alec Lohman, Christian Smith, Zach Spears — The Marauders have held 14 consecutive opponents to 50 points or less, and partial credit to that streak lies with the team’s role players.

Spears, the team’s fifth starter, is coming off his best varsity game. The 6-6 sophomore tallied 12 points and nine rebounds against Howe. He also serves as the tip of the sword in Mt. Vernon’s half-court trap.

Lohman and Smith are the first two guards off the bench for Lynch, and in their first season of netting varsity minutes, they’ve made tangible impacts.

With a steal and a near-steal, Lohman was the spark behind MV’s 18-3 first-half run vs. NP, and finished that contest with four points, six rebounds and three steals.

Smith showed poise by hitting a crunch-time free throw against Hamilton Southeastern.

“We’ve had contributions from a lot of different guys,” Lynch offered. “Possession by possession, game by game, we’ve had guys contribute positive minutes.”

2ND HALF

Mt. Vernon has a lengthy break before its next game, a home tilt vs. Connersville (6-7) on Jan. 25.

The black and gold will face stiff competition in its pursuit of an unbeaten regular season, with February dates against Noblesville (8-3), New Palestine (9-3), Westfield (7-5) and 3A No. 19 Yorktown (10-1).

MV will host Sectional 26, which contains defending 3A state champ Guerin Catholic (11-3, No. 6 in 3A) and Brebeuf (7-5, No. 19 in 3A).

Lynch said finishing unblemished isn’t a team goal, and vividly remembers how his team slumped last February, dropping four of its last five games.

“Those are real quality teams at the end of the season, teams that we didn’t beat last year,” he explained. “If we can get through that stretch with some success, I know we’ll be ready for sectional.”

The sectional draw is Feb. 17 and the tourney begins across the state Feb. 26 with sectional championships on March 2.

LEADERS

(per game)

SCORING

18.7 l CJ Coleman

14.9 l Stephen Turner

7.4 l Dan Werner

REBOUNDING

7.1 l Stephen Turner

ASSISTS

6.5 l Anthony Burnett

FIELD GOAL %

60.2 l Stephen Turner

58.3 l Zach Spears

FREE THROW %

82.4 l Stephen Turner

78.0 l CJ Coleman

3-POINT %

46.2 l CJ Coleman

SCHEDULE (12-0)

Nov. 20     Whiteland {4A}      W   57-  44     

Nov. 30     at Hamilton Southeastern {4A}      W   52-  49     

Dec. 7     Pendleton Heights {4A}‡      W   49-  37     

Dec. 8     (n)New Castle {4A}      W   48-  39     

Dec. 14     at Shelbyville {4A}‡      W   70-  50     

Dec. 15     at Mississinewa {3A}      W   59-  41     

Dec. 29     New Palestine {4A}      W   60-  39     

Dec. 29     at Greenfield-Central {4A}      W   51-  20     

Jan. 4     Greenfield-Central {4A}‡      W   62-  49     

Jan. 5     Hamilton Heights {3A}      W   56-  47     

Jan. 11     at Rushville {3A}‡      W   59-  37     

Jan. 12     Indianapolis Howe {3A}      W   56-  41     

Jan. 25     Connersville {4A}     7:30 pm     

Jan. 26     at Delta {3A}‡     7:30 pm     

Feb. 2     Noblesville {4A}     7:30 pm     

Feb. 7     Muncie Burris {2A}     7:30 pm     

Feb. 9     Lawrence Central {4A}     2:30 pm     

Feb. 15     at New Palestine {4A}‡     7:30 pm     

Feb. 19     Westfield {4A}     7:30 pm     

Feb. 22     Yorktown {3A}‡     7:30 pm     

‡HOOSIER HERITAGE CONFERENCE GAME

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