FORTVILLE — It was the perfect formula for success: Hit your shots. Don’t let the other team take many.
The first quarter of Mt. Vernon’s home girls basketball game with East Central couldn’t have gone much better.
The Marauders hit 7 of 9 from the field — including 2 of 4 3-pointers — and helped force eight first-quarter Trojans turnovers, jumping out to a 21-5 lead on their way to a 48-25 victory.
“I thought our start was very, very good. We pushed the ball and shared it a lot and got wide open looks,” Mt. Vernon head coach Julie Shelton said. “We really did a good job finding their better players and put pressure on their kids handling the ball.”
The win was Mt. Vernon’s fourth straight. It gave East Central (4-4) its fourth straight loss.
With the loss of a strong senior class, including primary ball handlers, Shay Shipley and Madison Swingle, Shelton admitted before the season, she wasn’t sure what to expect from this year’s club. They had struggled during the summer, but appear to be moving in the right direction.
Saturday’s win improved the Marauders’ record to 5-2.
“We still have a ways to go and I’m sure we’ll have some inconsistent moments,” Shelton said. “I feel like they are getting some confidence learning their new roles and what they are supposed to be doing. I’ve seen a lot of improvement because of those two things.”
On Saturday, Mt. Vernon went on to hit eight of its first 10 field-goal tries. East Central had only five first-quarter shot attempts, hitting two.
Junior Ellery Minch led all scorers with 21 points. She had 16 in the first half, eight in each quarter. She hit six of her first seven attempts. Junior Kaitlyn Laffey was red-hot, too. She scored a career-high 17 points, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range. She hit 6 of 7 fielders.
East Central scored the game’s first points, a bucket from Laney Baker, but the Marauders followed with the next 16.
Minch answered the Trojans first basket with a 3. Laffey followed with a pair of free throws. Minch hit a runner in the lane and Laffey hit a 3-pointer. After an East Central timeout, Kanyonrae Kenny got her first basket of the game, Laffey scored off a turnover and then hit a jumper.
A conventional three-point play from Minch extended the lead to 19-4.
Minch and Laffey combined for 17 first-quarter points and 6 of 7 shooting from the field.
“They both played very well and shot confidently,” Shelton said. “Ellery really handled the ball well against their press early to calm us down. We just had one little stretch at the beginning of the fourth. Besides that I felt we handled the ball well.”
The Trojans got within 13 late in the first half, but Minch scored and hit a free throw to jump the margin back to 16 at halftime.
Laffey had two third-quarter treys to help deflate East Central’s hopes.
“I thought we had big baskets when we needed them,” Shelton added. “Ellery and Kaitlyn Laffey, who hit one at the buzzer. Ellery hit a jump shot late. It seemed like when they’d make a little run we had a big basket.”
After the first quarter, the Marauders cooled off a bit, but the outcome had been determined. They still finished over .500 from the field (17 of 32, .531).
Kenny finished with six points. Khloe Patterson had a team-high five rebounds and a pair of free throws. Off the bench, Reagan Britt had two points and three boards.
Mt. Vernon is back in action today at Westfield and plays its Hoosier Heritage Conference opener Saturday against defending HHC champ Pendleton Heights.
Mt. Vernon 48, East Central 25
East Central (4-4): Addy Arnult 0 0-0 0, Anna Black 0 0-0 0, Josie Trabel 3 0-1 6, Caitlyn Dick 1 0-0 3, Laney Baker 3 1-2 7, Emily Klem 2 4-6 8, Karlie Davis 0 1-2 1, Bailey Ensinger 0 0-1 0. Totals: 9 6-12 25.
Mt. Vernon (5-2): Easton Wampler 0 0-0 0, Ellery Minch 7 5-5 21, Khloe Patterson 0 2-2 2, Kanyonrae Kenny 3 0-1 6, Kaitlyn Laffey 6 2-3 17, Reagan Britt 1 0-0 2, Samantha Mrnak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 9-11 48.
3-point goals: East Central 1 (Dick); Mt. Vernon 5 (Laffey 3, Minch 2)