FORTVILLE — The long wait is over for Mt. Vernon’s Luke Ertel.

It was game No. 19 for the Marauders, but No. 1 for Ertel.

The standout sophomore guard was playing his first basketball game since suffering a (Lisfranc) foot injury as the Marauders quarterback in a Sept. 29 football game at New Castle.

A year ago, Ertel helped lead the Marauders to a 16-9 season and trip to the Muncie Central Sectional championship game. He averaged 13.0 points per game — second to fellow guard and classmate Julien Smith’s 13.1 per outing — and led the Marauders in rebounds (6.3), assists (4.3), and free-throw percentage (87). He was second in steals (28) behind Smith (30).

The loudest applause of the night came when Ertel was introduced in the starting lineup.

He didn’t disappoint the Marauder faithful, scoring the team’s first four points and finishing with a game-high 21 points in a 59-51 victory over Mooresville Tuesday.

“It was a slow process and I had to stay positive through it all,” Ertel said of the recovery and return to the court. “I knew this day would come, so I had to work as hard as possible and keep pushing. All the glory to God that I am able to step back on the court again. It was a great feeling.”

“The hardest part was not being out there and seeing the team go play games and not having the chance to perform with them,” Ertel added. “It’s a horrible feeling sitting there for so many games and you know you’re a competitor and you know you want to play. … You’re happy for them, but you want to be out there with them.”

It was the return of one of state’s top young backcourts with the sophomore guard combo of Ertel and Smith back in action together.

Smith finished with 15 points Tuesday, and followed Ertel’s first four points with a triple to give Mt. Vernon an early 7-0 advantage.

They combined for 18 of the team’s 30 first-half points as the Marauders took a 30-20 lead into the locker room. Smith led Mt. Vernon at the break with 11.

The Pioneers made a second-half run and — after Mt. Vernon had pushed its lead to 12 — were able to cut it down to one, 48-47 with 5:16 left in the game.

Mt. Vernon answered with an Ertel trey to bump the lead back to four, 51-47. Ertel’s second trey of the quarter, and third of the game, gave the Marauders a 56-49 advantage with 2:41 left.

Ertel finished the night, unofficially, 6 of 11 from the field and 3 of 3 from 3-point range to go with 6 of 6 accuracy at the charity stripe. He was 3 of 3 from the field in the fourth quarter.

“He went through a lot of battles and heartache and he has a passion to compete,” Mt. Vernon coach Joe Bradburn said of the 6-foot, 2-inch Ertel. “He maintained being part of the team even though he had to go through his own regimen and do all of his therapies. He tried to stay focused in learning what we were doing. It was just a special thing to see him step on the floor tonight for a lot of people for a lot of reasons.

“As far as play-wise, he takes a little tension off [Julien]. They’re such a good tandem together. They’re two strong guards with aspirations to play Division I basketball. They just compete that way every night. It makes it special if you can spread the floor a little bit and let those guys go to work, set people up in different way.”

Following Ertel and Smith, Tanner Teschendorf scored seven points. Tyler Davis and Aden Daugherty had six apiece and Ryker Baer added four.

Mooresville was led by Brevon Burns and AJ DeFur with 15 points each. Tyrone Elmore scored 14 points.

Mt. Vernon (11-8) returns to action Friday with a road game at Madison. They’ll follow it with a Saturday afternoon contest at Pike, switched from an evening game due to both Mt. Vernon and Pike girls basketball teams playing regional games. Saturday’s varsity tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Mooresville (8-11) will play host to Martinsville Friday.

Mt. Vernon 59, Mooresville 51


Mt. Vernon;18;12;14;15;—;59

Mooresville (8-11): Brevon Burns 5 4-5 15, Tyrone Elmore 6 2-2 14, AJ DeFur 5 2-2 15, Chris Thompson 0 0-0 0, Alec Dennis 0 0-0 0, Jayce Nielsen 3 0-0 6, Bradley Robbins 0 1-2 1, Wilkinson Elma 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 9-11 51.

Mt. Vernon (11-8): Brady Fitzgerald 0 0-0 0, Tanner Teschendorf 3 1-2 7, Tyler Davis 3 0-2 6, Luke Ertel 6 6-6 21, Julien Smith 5 2-4 15, Aden Daugherty 3 0-0 6, Ryker Baer 2 0-0 4, R’mani Wells 0 0-0 0, Charlie Cross 0 0-0 0, Elijah Parra 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 9-14 59.

3-point goals: Mooresville 4 (DeFur 3, Burns). Mt. Vernon 6 (Ertel 3, Smith 3)