RICHMOND — With its 59-51 semistate win over Rushville Saturday, Mt. Vernon is assured of competing in the Class 4A girls basketball state tournament for the next two seasons.
Last June, the IHSAA approved a two-year tournament success factor for team sports. If a school gains six points during a two-year period, it moves up one class for the next two-year cycle.
Points are awarded for each championship: sectional (one), regional (two), semistate (three) and state championship (four).
The Marauders have acquired six points with their back-to-back semistate victories.
The MV girls likely would have been headed to 4A even without the on-court success, however. Due in part to increased enrollment, it has been widely speculated that MV will be bumped to 4A for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years in girls and boys basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball following IHSAA reclassification, which will be announced in March.
Moore garners high praise from Rushville coach Marlow
Erica Moore welcomed the challenge presented by Rushville’s tall and sturdy fleet of forwards Saturday afternoon.
The 6-0 junior is MV’s lone threat in the pivot, but the Lions countered with paint dwellers Keregan Niehoff (5-11; 11 ppg, 11.2 rpg), Sarah Cook (5-10; 12.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Kelsi Ash (5-11; 7 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
“I think it’s great,” Moore said. “Playing girls that are my size is more competition for me. You learn to play strong and be strong.”
Moore finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, while the RV triumvirate combined for 42 points and 22 rebounds.
But, Moore left her imprint early in the first quarter by showing off her wide-ranging skill set.
She rebounded her own miss twice over the Lion bigs before getting fouled and netting her first two points from the line.
Later in the first stanza, she stepped out and swished two jump shots.
Moore tallied 22 points and 12 rebounds in the teams’ first tilt on Nov. 16, and her year-to-year development has caught the eye of Melissa Marlow, the 13th-year RV coach.
“I’m so impressed with Erica Moore,” Marlow said. “You think there’s a weakness and she improves on it and gets that much better.”
Marlow also had suggestion for MV coach Julie Shelton.
“(Moore) is a Junior All-Star candidate. I told Julie that she needs to put her up for Miss Basketball because I don’t know how anyone has an answer for her,” Marlow commented. “If you have the answer, let me know. I could use it for next year [laughs].”
After undergoing surgery on her right knee in early January, Moore spent the next month rehabbing, her goal always to return for start of sectional play.
Moore said she tried to not to think about the possibility of missing any postseason games.
Now, her comeback has been validated by MV’s success.
“If feels great,” Moore said. “All of this hard work has paid off.”
Duff has earned her spot by converting from her spot
A year ago, Shaely Duff couldn’t attend what she estimated to be half of the Marauders’ playoff games because of mononucleosis.
Now, the sophomore has become a key cog in Mt. Vernon’s playoff run.
In the regional semifinals against Lebanon, Duff’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave Mt. Vernon the lead in the game’s final minute.
Duff admitted she “couldn’t believe” that triple found the bottom of the net vs. Lebanon, but pointed to advice from Shelton that allows the sophomore to take pressure shots without a clouded conscience.
“Coach always says, ‘When you get the shot, know you’re going to make it,’” Duff revealed. “She helped me get through this thing.”
More often that not, Duff can be found camped out in left corner. She hit a pair of 3s from that location Saturday en route to a career-best 15 points.
“That’s my favorite shot, the corner shot, Duff said. “I’m glad I get those shots.”
Shelton on Shelton
There are times when Julie Shelton fails to remember her niece, Sydney, is only a freshman.
“I’m so hard on her,” Julie admitted. “But she does so many good things.”
Mt. Vernon’s starting point guard was in control from the outset Saturday, scoring or assisting on MV’s first 10 points and finished with a game-best 18 points.
On her first field goal, Shelton calmly dribbled on the left of the elbow before unleashing a lightning-quick crossover that resulted in an unimpeded lay-in.
The play elicited audible “ooohs” from the crowd and forced a Rushville timeout.
“I thought tonight, even more so than in the regional, she controlled the ball and had a great floor game,” Julie Shelton said. “She didn’t force, but when she had gaps she took it to the hole.
“Today was her best game as far as a floor game.”
And for the second contest in a row, it was Shelton icing the game from the foul line. The 83 percent foul shooter was 8-of-8 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and 10-of-10 for the game.
Shelton said she hasn’t felt much pressure in her rookie season, even in MV’s close encounters.
“I just think, ‘Hey, I need to get the ball. I need to get fouled. I need to take some time off the clock,’” she said of her end-of-game play. “In the heat of the moment, you don’t really think about it.”
Tickets for the State Finals Saturday at Indiana State will go on sale at Mt. Vernon today. Tickets are $15 per session. The schedule for buying tickets at MV:
* Today, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., All Sports Pass Holders (may purchase only one ticket per pass), MVHS Athletic Department Game Workers, high school students; 12:30-4:30 p.m., above named groups, high school Staff
* Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 am.-4:30 p.m., general public.
* Friday, 8:30-10 a.m., general public.
State Finals Session I
Class A — Fort Wayne Canterbury (24-3) vs. Vincennes Rivet (22-4), 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A — Eastern (Greentown) (22-3) vs. Evansville Mater Dei (27-2), 12:45 p.m.
State FInals Session II
Class 3A — Hamilton Heights (23-2) vs. Mt. Vernon (22-4), 6 p.m.
Class 4A — Fort Wayne South Side (24-3) vs. Bedford North Lawrence (27-0), 8:15 p.m.
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Site: Hulman Center, 200 N. 8th Street, Terre Haute.
Admission: $15.00 per session.
Reserved single session tickets may be purchased at the participating schools the week of the state finals. Contact participating schools for ticket distribution hours. Any remaining tickets may be purchased on game day at the Hulman Center.
Home Team: The winners of the south semi-states will be the designated home teams.
Gates Open: The Hulman Center will open gates to fans beginning one hour prior to the start of the Class A game (9:30 am ET) and the 3A game (5 pm ET). The building will be cleared between the 2A and 3A games.
Television: All four state championship games will be broadcast live throughout the state on the IHSAA Champions Television Network.
Webcast: All four state championship games will be streamed live at IHSAAtv.org.