FORTVILLE — There will be a new Class 3A boys basketball state champion in Indiana this year.
Mt. Vernon made sure of that Friday. Now, the Marauders aim to finish as the 2013 hoops kings.
Behind CJ Coleman and a typically stout defensive effort, 3A No. 1-ranked Mt. Vernon dispatched defending state champ Guerin Catholic 37-30 Friday in the Sectional 26 semifinals.
Guerin ousted Mt. Vernon 35-28 in last year’s sectional on its way to the state championship, and Friday’s rematch was equally easy on the scoreboard operator.
“We knew coming into the game it was going to be tough,” said MV sophomore Dan Werner, who scored 11 points, including five in the first quarter to get the hosts out to a 9-2 lead. “We just had to play hard and get out to the 3-point line on defense. And they had a good player down low. We knew if we stopped him, we’d have a better chance of winning.”
The 3A No. 1-ranked Marauders (21-1) succeeded on both counts, keeping Guerin to a 3-of-18 shooting effort from long range and holding Division I prospect Aaron Brennan to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The defensive effort on Brennan came at a cost for the Marauders, however. MV six-foot-6 senior forward Stephen Turner had his hands full with the Brennan and his Guerin low post teammate Cris Burrough — each standing 6-5 — and Turner fouled out with four minutes, 45 seconds left in the game and Mt. Vernon ahead 24-21.
MV, which advanced to face Arlington (11-11) in Monday’s championship, rallied following the loss of Turner, their second-leading scorer this season with 14.6 points per game.
Turner’s fifth and final foul sent Brennan to the free throw line for two shots, both of which he missed.
On MV’s ensuing possession, Anthony Burnett was fouled, and he made 1-of-2 at the line to give the Marauders a 25-21 edge. Coleman picked off a Guerin pass on the Eagles’ next possession and was fouled and the junior guard hit both free throw attempts for a 27-21 lead.
Guerin’s Tyler Vickery responded with a 3-pointer, but Coleman came back at the other end with a 3-pointer of his own and the Marauders had a 30-24 lead with 1:32 left.
MV sealed the game at the free throw line, scoring their final seven points at the stripe.
Despite the back-and-forth, often-physical contest, Werner said the Marauders never lost focus, even when Turner was forced to the bench.
“We felt like we were fine the whole game,” he said. “We don’t really panic that much. We’re great about that, I think. We just knew that if we kept our heads straight and kept playing we would come out on top.”
If the Marauders had any cause for concern, it might have been the six-minute stretch of the second and third quarters that they went scoreless. In front 15-5 with 4:05 left in the first half, MV didn’t disturb the net again until the 6:02 mark of the third quarter when Werner knocked down a shot to end a 10-0 run by Guerin and give the Marauders a 17-15 lead.
“They did a great job defending us, and I didn’t think we did a great job on offensive glass,” MV coach Steve Lynch said. “We had two turnovers on offense that hurt us, then we did not run back. They’re a great transition team, and we were not hustling to get back defensively and just gave them too many easy looks.
“And I think they settled in on our zone and kind of figured it out, so we had to change defenses.”
Tied 19-19, Coleman drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter and the Marauders, looking for their first sectional title since the heralded senior group of 2010 put up a banner, led the rest of the way.
Coleman finished with 16 points, including 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
Burnett had four points (all at the free throw line), three rebounds and three assists. Reserve 5-9 guard Alec Lohman played extensive action in the fourth after Turner fouled out and came up with four rebounds on the night. Forward Zach Spears had two points (both at the free throw line) and five boards.
As a team, the Marauders went 14-of-22 at the line, while Guerin was 3-of-9.
MV also out-shot the Golden Eagles from the field, knocking down 10-of-26 (38 percent) attempts, while the visitors were 12-of-42 (29 percent).
Brennan, a junior, was the only Golden Eagle in double figures; Burrough tallied eight points.
Entering the night as the state’s best 3A defensive program, allowing only 41.1 points per game, Mt. Vernon held true to form Friday. Guerin, while not an offensive juggernaut (54.3 ppg), had scored at least 60 points in four of its previous seven games, and Friday’s 30-point output was its’ lowest since a 52-30 loss to Pendleton Heights on Jan. 30, 2007, in the program’s first full year as an IHSAA member.
It took Guerin coach Pete Smith just eight seasons (including the partial 2005 and 2006 campaigns) to build a state champ at the private school, and his counterpart Lynch knew Friday’s semifinal would be a challenge.
“Coach Smith and I, our relationship goes back many, many years,” said Lynch, in his seventh year at MV. “You just know that when there’s a chance you’re going to be playing them in the sectional, they’re going to be scouting us when we’re playing, and when they’re playing we’re going to have somebody there scouting them.
“And there’s not much that’s not on the scouting report. So, when you get in an environment like that, it’s just hard to score points. And I thought our kids did a good job making free throws and finding opportunities, and we did enough defensively on their team to limit their scoring.”
Lynch and the Marauders would like nothing better than to follow Guerin Catholic on the list of 3A state champions. In fact, it’s their primary objective.
“Our team’s goal is definitely to make it to state,” Werner said. “If we don’t make it to state, I feel like we haven’t reached our goal. That’s the only thing we’re really striving for. If we win regionals and we don’t get to state, I’m not happy. That’s what we’re going for.”
If they make it past Arlington on Monday, the Marauders would advance to the Greencastle Regional semifinals next Saturday to face the Danville (17-5)-Indy Northwest (16-6) winner out of tonight’s sectional championship at Danville.
“We’re always confident,” Werner said. “But, we just have to be ready, because we know there’s still a bunch of good teams in front of us that we have to come out and be ready to play. We have another game on Monday that we need to be ready for.”
Notes: The sectional championship was originally slated for Saturday but was postponed so that MV fans could travel to Terre Haute to see the Marauders’ girls basketball team play in the 3A State Finals today at 6 p.m. … MV improved to 14-0 at home this season. … Arlington and the Marauders did not play this season. The Golden Knights are averaging 61.4 points per game and giving up 63.6 per game. ... All Class 3A top-10 ranked teams were still alive in the tournament through Friday.
3A Sectional 26 at Mt. Vernon
Arlington 51, Chatard 50
Mt. Vernon 37, Guerin Catholic 30
GC — Sahm 1-2 0-0 3, Dallas 0-1 0-0 0, Labus 1-6 0-2 3, Ta. Vickery 0-3 0-0 0, Ty. Vickery 2-5 0-0 5, Burrough 4-8 0-0 8, Rapp 0-5 1-3 1, Brennan 4-12 2-4 10. Totals — 12-42 3-9 30.
MV — Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 4-13 6-8 16, Burnett 0-1 4-6 4, Lohman 0-1 0-2 0, Spears 0-2 2-4 2, Turner 2-4 0-0 4, Wayer 0-0 0-0 0, Werner 4-5 2-2 11, Rice 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 10-26 14-22 37.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
GC (17-6) 2 8 9 11 — 30
MV (21-1) 9 6 7 15 — 37
Three-pt. field goals: GC 3-18 (Sahm 1-2, Dallas 0-1, Labus 1-3, Ta. Vickery 0-3, Ty. Vickery 1-4, Rapp 0-4, Brennan 0-1). MV 3-4 (Coleman 2-3, Werner 1-1).
Rebounds: GC 24 (Labus 2, Ta. Vickery 1, Burrough 8, Rapp 2, Brennan 11), MV 26 (Coleman 6, Burnett 3, Lohman 4, Spears 5, Turner 5, Werner 3). Assists: GC 4 (Ty. Vickery 1, Burrough 2, Brennan 1), MV 5 (Burnett 3, Lohman 1, Spears 1). Steals: GC 1 (Labus 1), MV 4 (Coleman 2, Burnett 1, Lohman 1). Blocks: GC 0, MV 1 (Turner 1). Total fouls: GC 19, MV 15. Fouled out: Ty. Vickery (GC), Turner (MV). Turnovers: GC 6, MV 9.