Dictating the Tempo: Marauders clamp down on Trojans, gaining momentum

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Mt. Vernon’s Kanyonrae Kenny defends against New Castle on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

By James Howell Jr. / For The Daily Reporter

FORTVILLE — Momentum is the name of the game at this point in the girls basketball season.

With just two regular-season games remaining, and coming off a narrow loss to the East Central Trojans last time out, the Mt. Vernon Marauders were on the prowl for some momentum heading into next week’s sectional.

With a 54-26 victory over the New Castle Trojans (11-9, 4-3 HHC), the host Marauders (14-8, 5-1 HHC) not only gained momentum to carry with them, but also clinched second place in the Hoosier Heritage Conference with a game to go.

Early on, Ellery Minch made things difficult for the visiting Trojans. Within the first three minutes of action Minch drilled two 3-point shots and added another lay-in to push the Marauders ahead 10-2.

The resilient Trojans did not go down easily however, as they fought back to tie the game up in the late moments of the first quarter with the help of five Marauder turnovers.

Those turnovers were cleaned up and the Marauders were ready to pick up that ever-important momentum.

With 1:27 remaining in the first half, a Minch 3-pointer (her third of the game) pushed the Marauder lead to 24-10. At this point in the second quarter, the Marauder defense left the Trojans scoreless and with six turnovers.

The second quarter defense was the key to success as Marauder head Julie Shelton said herself.

“Defense is our game,” Shelton said. “After giving up 10 in the first quarter, I thought that was too much, so I told the team to really tighten up and play our brand of defense. They went out there and did it and nearly got a shutout.”

With 59 seconds left in the second quarter, the Trojans finally broke their scoreless run with a Maddy Meek free throw. The converted free throw was also the first make at the charity strip for either team in the clean first half of play.

The Marauders took a 29-11 lead into the half.

The Marauders lead was never threatened in the second half, as the Trojans struggled to find the bottom of the net. After three quarters, the Trojans were shooting just 7-for-30 from the court.

In the first two minutes of the fourth quarter the Marauders went on a 12-0 run to ice the game and lead by 28. The pressure to score quickly only added to the Trojans’ scoring woes and left them with just five points throughout the entire quarter.

Minch ended the night with a team-high 22 points, and the Marauders quick hands ended up getting them a team total of 14 steals.

Shelton was happy following the game and believes tonight is something for the Marauders to build on heading into next week.

“Tonight was incredibly important (in building momentum),” Shelton said. “Nice to get that finish in the conference but none of that really matters. The state tournament is what you work year round for. I feel like tonight was a good step at showing us how good we can be when we play our best ball.”

The Marauders close out the 2021-22 regular season on Thursday night at home against the Delta Eagles (3-15, 0-6 HHC). Next Tuesday night, the state tournament tips off with the sectional at Mt. Vernon. The Marauders drew a first-round bye and will play the winner of Anderson vs. Muncie Central in the semifinals on Friday, Feb. 4.

Mt. Vernon 54, New Castle 26

Mt. Vernon;13;16;8;17;—;54

New Castle;10;1;10;5—;26

Mt. Vernon (14-8, 5-1 HHC): Ellery Minch 9 1-2 22, Shay Shipley 3 0-0 7, Alaina Nugent 2 0-0 5, Madison Swingle 4 0-0 9, Easton Wampler 1 0-0 2, Khloe Patterson 2 1-2 5, Kanyonrae Kenny 1 0-0 3, Savannah Jouppi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 2-4 54.

New Castle (11-9, 4-3 HHC): Maddy Meek 4 1-2 12, Sakagawea Watson 2 2-2 6, Emma Blackburn 2 0-0 5, Emma Hart 1 0-0 3. Totals: 9 3-4 26.

3-point field goals: Mt. Vernon 8 (Minch 4, Kenny 1, Shipley 1, Nugent 1, Swingle 1); New Castle 5 (Meek 3, Hart 1, Blackburn 1).

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