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No luck needed: 13 straight for No. 1 Mt. Vernon

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FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon allowed 14 points to Connersville in the second quarter of a boys basketball matchup Friday. For many teams, that’s a pretty decent effort. For the lockdown and Class 3A No. 1-ranked Marauders, giving up 14 points in a quarter counts as a defensive lapse.

It was a momentary glitch in what has been a perfect season, however, and Mt. Vernon quickly returned to its lofty standards on the way to a 58-43 win.

The Marauders (13-0) have not given up more than 50 points all year, and they had the state’s best 3A defense (and seventh toughest overall) heading into the game with a 41.1 points-per-game average.

After stifling Connersville Friday — the Spartans (6-10) had 26 total points with less than five minutes to play — MV coach Steve Lynch was asked if this is the best defensive team he’s ever coached.

He paused, then replied with a smile, “Hate to give them any compliments before the season’s over, but they’re doing a really nice job. It’s one of the best, for sure.”

Connersville opened the game 1-of-7 from the field and was in an 11-2 hole through the first quarter. Kerry Brown’s club exploited a lapse in the Marauders’ perimeter defense to start the second quarter, though, knocking down 4-of-5 3-point attempts, and the visitors trailed by only one point at halftime, 17-16.

“We started the game well and then for whatever reason in the second quarter, we couldn’t get in a good flow offensively and they made three or four shots,” Lynch said. “We talked at halftime about, ‘We just can’t allow teams to sit in the zone and make shots like that.’

“I thought in the third quarter we responded and did a nice job and kind of got some things locked up.”

With their typically balanced offense — paced Friday by CJ Coleman (18 points), Stephen Turner (18 points), Anthony Burnett (10 points) and Dan Werner (10 points) — the Marauders notched the first two hoops of the second half and pulled away from there.

MV led 35-26 heading into the final quarter, then tallied 11 straight points for a 46-26 advantage to put away the 4A Spartans, who only made it to 43 points after Lynch took out his starters midway through the fourth.

Sean Davis and Isaiah Easley had nine points each for the Spartans, who shot 15-of-36 from the field, including 9-of-19 from long range, and 4-of-10 from the free throw line.

MV went 20-of-37 from the field, making 3-of-9 attempts beyond the arc and 15-of-20 free throws.

Turner recorded 12 of his 18 points in less than six minutes of work in the fourth quarter. He also finished with seven rebounds.

In the first quarter, Werner had the hot hand with five points.

Coleman dominated the third quarter with nine points.

And do-it-all Burnett (five assists, three steals, three rebounds) was a constant force.

The Marauders have been just as consistent offensively this season as they have on the other end of the court; they’ve scored between 48 and 62 points in all but one game — a 70-50 win over Shelbyville, which also marked the most points they’ve allowed.

“We’re trying to get some guys to be a little more aggressive offensively, but then in a game like tonight, we had to just appreciate the long possession,” Lynch said. “And I thought when that happened in the second half, we were able to put the ball in the basket better.”

The Marauders return to Hoosier Heritage Conference action tonight in a girls-boys doubleheader at Delta (5-7, 1-3 HHC). The 3A No. 7 MV girls face the Eagles at 6 p.m., followed by the boys’ battle.

MV (13-0, 4-0 HHC) and New Palestine (11-4, 5-0 HHC) are the lone conference unbeatens. They’ll meet Feb. 15 at New Palestine.

With a win today, the Marauders will likely sit atop the Associated Press 3A state rankings for a third straight week beginning Monday; a perch they’ve held since former No. 1 Greensburg lost to Batesville Jan. 11.

“I think they’ve handled it well,” Lynch said of his team’s composure under the No. 1 spotlight and pressure of a so-far perfect season. “The one thing I appreciate about this team, they work hard, they’re willing to respond to the situation. And I think when it’s over, they’re not really hanging onto it. We’re not hanging on to anything that’s happened as much as getting ready for the next game.

“Whether it’s a game, a possession … we could put three really bad possessions together and I don’t think they worry about that. They know that they’ve messed it up and they move on to the next possession and they make it better. So, this group’s been pretty unique that way.”

Notes: Delta lost to Wapahani Friday 50-34. … MV won the JV game Friday 22-18. James Stricker (six points) and Miles Wayer (five points) led the Marauders. … Mt. Vernon’s home game against Noblesville Feb. 2 will serve as Varsity Boys Basketball Alumni Night. All former Mt. Vernon (and area pre-consolidation) players are encouraged to attend and be recognized at halftime. Former players who pre-register will be admitted to the game free. Call (317) 442-9578 or email atpcole@aol.com to register.


Mt. Vernon 58, Connersville 43

CO — Zimmerman 3-5 0-0 7, Peterson 2-6 0-0 5, Davis 3-8 0-0 9, Carlin 1-4 0-0 3, Kelley 1-1 0-0 3, Billups 1-3 1-2 3, Parsley 0-0 0-2 0, Rent 1-2 2-2 4, Easley 3-7 1-4 9. Totals — 15-36 4-10 43.

MV — Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 7-17 3-4 18, Burnett 3-3 4-6 10, Lohman 0-0 2-2 2, Spears 0-1 0-0 0, Turner 7-12 3-4 18, Wayer 0-0 0-0 0, Werner 3-4 3-4 10, Rice 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 20-37 15-20 58.


CO (6-10)         2    14   10   17  —  43

MV (13-0)      11     6    18   23  —  58

Three-pt. field goals: CO 9-19 (Zimmerman 1-3, Peterson 1-3, Davis 3-6, Carlin 1-1, Kelley 1-1, Billups 0-1, Rent 0-1, Easley 2-3). MV 3-9 (Coleman 1-5, Turner 1-2, Werner 1-2).

Rebounds: CO 15 (Peterson 2, Davis 2, Billups 1, Parsley 4, Rent 2, Easley 4), MV 22 (Coleman 5, Burnett 3, Spears 3, Turner 7, Werner 4). Assists: CO 4 (Peterson 1, Carlin 1, Parsley 2), MV 11 (Smith 2, Coleman 1, Burnett 5, Lohman 1, Spears 1, Turner 1). Steals: CO 4 (Peterson 1, Davis 1, Billups 1, Rent 1), MV 11 (Smith 1, Coleman 4, Burnett 3, Spears 1, Turner 1, Werner 1). Blocks: CO 1 (Parsley 1), MV 0. Total fouls: CO 23, MV 10. Fouled out: Billups (CO). Turnovers: CO 18, MV 9.


Mt. Vernon 22, Connersville 18

MV (6-8) — Stricker 6, Wayer 5, Christenson 4, McKinney 4, Richardson 2, Smith 1.

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