Marauders open Phil Cox Memorial Tournament with gritty, overtime win

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KOKOMO — It wasn’t the typical 7:30 start time on a Friday, but for Mt. Vernon, that didn’t matter.

Just as they’ve done a few times already this season, they showed the ability to pull out a close game and pushed their winning streak to four.

In the first round of the Phil Cox Memorial Holiday Tournament at Kokomo’s Memorial Gymnasium the Marauders fought back late to force overtime before defeating Plainfield, 68-62.

“We have some grit and some tough suckers. That’s our mantra in the locker room — tougher longer. We talk about that every day at practice to get our mindsets ready for situations like this one,” Mt. Vernon head coach Joe Bradburn said. “Plainfield is a really, really good team. They’re talented, athletic, skilled and coached well, so it was really awesome for us to be able to do this against an opponent like that.”

With just under three minutes remaining, a four-point play by Plainfield’s Landon Gilliatt and an ensuing 3-pointer by Harper Baker-Lands seemed to put things fully in the Quakers control, 50-42

Led by sophomore guard Julien Smith, the Marauders began their comeback.

An immediate Smith three cut things to five, and after another Plainfield basket, Smith brought Mt. Vernon back within five again with another basket.

After a Plainfield free throw, back-to-back Elijah Parra layups off of Quakers turnovers trimmed the lead to just two, 54-52.

With 20 seconds on the clock, it was Smith again coming up big. He hit two free throws to tie the game, and the Marauders defense made one more stand to force overtime.

Smith scored 14 of the 21 Mt. Vernon fourth-quarter points and finished with a game-high 25 points.

“We have a bunch of guys that can step up any night, that’s what’s special about this group. We’re not an unselfish team, but the tough part is that they have to figure out how to adjust when they’re being guarded and find somebody else on certain nights. The other night, Eli had his night and Julien sacrificed a little, and tonight it was vice versa,” Bradburn said. “Julien is the hardest working player I’ve ever coached and deserving of a night like this. He puts the work in in the offseason and during practice. He controlled more than just the scoring, he controlled the tempo of the game and got us into different looks offensively.”

Mt. Vernon’s Tanner Teschendorf scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the win over Plainfield. Daily Reporter File Photo

In overtime, Smith capped off his big performance. Up one, he found a cutting Tanner Teschendorf for the three-point lead, and on the next possession scored his last field goal of the game to put the Marauders up five with just over a minute to play.

To close things out, Mt. Vernon was near-perfect from the charity stripe. After shooting 11-of-21 from the free throw line through regulation, the Marauders knocked down 9-of-11 in the overtime period.

The fourth-quarter comeback wasn’t the first for Mt. Vernon. To open the game, the Quakers reeled off a 12-0 run and later led in the period 16-3 before the Marauders answered with a 9-0 run of their own sparked by a pair of Ryker Baer putback layups.

“They [Plainfield] do such a great job and are so polished on offense. They do so many things well and run their system well, so we knew that we had to do some things to get them out of their rhythm,” Bradburn said. “We changed things up early on, and on top of that, our offense wasn’t helping us. There was a lid on the basket and we missed some free throws, but we fought enough defensively to stay in position to win the game.”

In the second, sixth straight Smith points tied things at 18, and just before the half a Parra steal and layup gave Mt. Vernon their first lead of the game.

“We had a really rough start, and we did the same thing at New Castle, so our coaching staff has to go back and figure out how to get off to a better start,” Bradburn said. “But like we did the other night, we found ways to fight defensively and get the energy back up to get us back in the game. That’s a credit to our guys’ toughness and grit to get back into things.”

Following Smith’s 25 points, Parra scored 14 and Teschendorf had 10.

Plainfield was led by Collin Schmidt’s 17 points.

The Marauders play in the semifinals tomorrow against Jeffersonville at 12:45 p.m.

Mt. Vernon 68, Plainfield 62

Mt. Vernon;8;12;14;21;13;68

Plainfield;16;3;17;19;7;62

Mt. Vernon (5-2): Julien Smith 8 7-10 25, R’mani Wells 1 5-12 7, Elijah Parra 4 6-7 14, Tanner Teschendorf 4 1-2 10, Ryker Baer 2 0-0 4, Aden Daugherty 0 0-0 0, Brady Fitzgerald 3 1-1 8. Totals: 22 20-32 68.

Plainfield (6-2): Noah Smith 4 1-1 9, Collin Schmidt 5 7-9 17, Eli Ellis 3 4-6 10, Harper Baker-Lands 4 2-6 13, Chris Arvanitis 0 0-0 0, Caden Vanderbush 1 0-0 2, Colton East 2 1-2 5, Landon Gilliatt 2 1-1 6. Totals: 21 16-25 62.

3-point goals: Mt. Vernon 4 (Smith 2, Fitzgerald 1, Teschendorf 1); Plainfield 4 (Baker-Lands 3, Gilliatt 1).