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True Grit: MV defense bottles up G-C, secures HHC title

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FORTVILLE — With its leading scorer out indefinitely with a knee injury, Mt. Vernon knew its offense would take a step back.

But, one thing that hasn’t suffered is the team’s defense.

The Marauders limited Greenfield-Central to its lowest scoring output of the season in a 44-29 victory Friday night in Fortville, a triumph that cemented MV’s share of its third straight Hoosier Heritage Conference championship.

3A No. 6 Mt. Vernon (14-3, 6-0 HHC) hasn’t lost a conference game since falling at Rushville on Nov. 20, 2009, a span of 20 games.

“We’ve had a great run and I’ve had a great group of girls,” said MV coach Julie Shelton, whose team can clinch the outright HHC crown Jan. 26 at Delta. “I’ve had a lot of great players who’ve worked hard for this and deserve this.

“I couldn’t be happier for the team.”

Play was even through the first eight minutes, but the Marauders turned up the defensive heat near the end of the frame and through the second quarter.

The result was just one G-C point — a free throw by Brooke Bell — in the second period. The hosts took a 19-10 lead into intermission, with the Cougars notching four more turnovers (14) than points.

The blue and gold were undone by live ball turnovers — as opposed to the dead ball variety, which stop play — handing MV easy scoring opportunities.

“We talk about that every day,” G-C coach Doug Laker said of his team’s mistakes. “If you’re going to have a turnover, throw it into the 10th row.”

Sydney Shelton spearheaded an MV run to begin the third. The freshman point guard fed Ellie Balbach for an easy two, then converted a layup and a 3-pointer, forcing the visitors to call timeout.

All the while, Greenfield-Central couldn’t find the bottom of the net.

From the one-minute mark of the first quarter until 4:35 remained in the third, the Cougars did not make one shot from the field. G-C threw the ball away on its first three second-half possessions, finishing the game with 24 turnovers.

And by the end of the third quarter, the game was out of reach. Shelton tallied 12 of her 18 points in the frame, and MV was out in front 41-17.

The Marauders are playing without leading scorer Erica Moore (18.9 ppg), whose right knee injury has caused her to miss the last four games.

Against G-C, the black and gold registered its lowest point total of the season, but it recognizes that defense will have to carry it until Moore comes back for sectional play, though the junior’s return is far from a sure thing.

“We’ve talked about the last several weeks, that we don’t have a lot of offense with Erica out,” Julie Shelton explained. “We don’t have a lot inside. And if we get into any foul trouble, or if teams key on certain people, or we’re not hitting shots…we’ve got to get it done with our defense.”

Shelton and Rachel Houck have emerged to shoulder the scoring load.

For the 16th time this year, Shelton scored in double digits Friday. Houck, who equaled Shelton’s game-high total of 18 Friday night, broke double figures for the ninth straight contest.

“(Sydney and Rachel) have definitely picked it up,” Shelton offered. “It’s been difficult on them because with Erica out, every team is keying on them.

“They’ve done a great job.”

Laker said his goal was to keep Shelton and Houck to 16 points apiece. No one else on MV scored more than two points.

“They got some transition (points) on us, but we did a good job,” said the fifth-year G-C coach. “That was our expectation, so that’s not bad. We just have to score a little more.”

The 4A Cougars (7-10, 3-3 HHC) entered Friday winners of three straight, their longest win streak of the season. They will close the season against Yorktown (13-4, 2-3 HHC), Whiteland (8-9) and 4A No. 12 Greenwood (14-3).

“We finish up with a great schedule. All three games that we can compete and have a chance in,” Laker said. “You can tell the improvement from midseason until now. We are getting better.

“Failure is a part of life, let’s see how (we) handle it.”

Mt. Vernon’s next tilt is a non-league match at New Castle (6-10) before heading to Delta (3-12).

The game doubled as the last home appearance for Balbach, Houck and Krista Shockley, three seniors who have seen the program go 76-14 in their four years.

“It’s another great group of seniors,” Shelton said of the trio. “We lost four seniors last year and everyone kind of wondered how we’d be and I think we’ve had a good season this year because of those seniors.”

Notes: Bell led the Cougars with 11 points. … Shelton and G-C’s Sara Jones both had eight rebounds. … The last time MV lost to G-C was Jan. 3, 2008. The Marauders have won the series’ last seven meetings. … MV won the JV game 43-20. Ariana Sandefur had 25 points for the home team.


Mt. Vernon 44, Greenfield-Central 29

GC — Oldham 0-3 0-0 0, Jones 1-2 0-1 2, Koers 1-4 2-4 4, Lewis 1-7 0-0 2, Davis 2-4 1-4 6, Bell 2-6 5-6 11, Hart 2-2 0-0 4, Girolami 0-2 0-0 0, Tietjen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 9-32 8-15 29.

MV — Shelton 5-14 7-8 18, Houck 5-13 6-6 18, Shockley 0-0 0-0 0, Duff 1-4 0-0 2, Balbach 1-2 0-0 2, Walrod 1-3 0-1 2, Baugh 1-4 0-0 2, Sandefur 0-1 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 14-41 13-15 41.


GC (7-10, 3-3 HHC) 9 1 7 12 — 29

MV (14-3, 6-0 HHC) 11 8 22 3 — 44

Three-pt. field goals: GC 3-11 (Oldham 0-1, Koers 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Davis 1-1, Bell 2-6, Tietjen 0-1. MV 3-13 (Shelton 1-4, Houck 2-5, Duff 0-3, Sandefur 0-1.

Rebounds: GC 19 (Oldham 1, Jones 8, Koers 2, Lewis 4, Davis 2, Bell 2), MV 21 (Shelton 8, Shockley 1, Duff 4, Balbach 3, Baugh 5). Assists: GC 8 (Oldham 3, Koers 2, Lewis 1, Girolami 2), MV 7 (Shelton 2, Houck 2, Shockley 2, Balbach 1). Steals: GC 4 (Oldham 1, Jones 1, Koers 1, Bell 1), MV 11 (Shelton 2, Houck 3, Shockley 1, Duff 2, Balbach 1, Walrod 1, Baugh 1). Blocks: GC 2 (Jones 1, Davis 1), MV 1 (Baugh 1). Total fouls: GC 15, MV 18. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: GC 24, MV 14.


Mt. Vernon 43, Greenfield-Central 20

GC — Conley 2, Flora 4, Ellison 1, Gruell 7, Wolfe 4, Landuyt 2.

MV — Grubb 2, Baugh 10, Jones 2, Nuckols 2, Sandefur 25, Ford 2.

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