ACADEMIA — The Mount Vernon Academy went 2-0 at home this past weekend to claim the championship in its inaugural Food for the Hungry benefit tournament.
The Eagles defeated Tri-State Youth Academy, 65-56, in Sunday night’s championship game.
“This was a really huge deal for these guys,” said MVA head boys basketball coach Jim Edick. “They were excited to achieve this, to get the tournament trophy.”
The Eagles’ Matt Thomas claimed the Most Valuable Player trophy by hitting seven 3-pointers in Sunday’s final game. He finished with 24 points.
Ben Oyortey had 19 points, most of which came late in crunch time. Berned Wagnac and Maurice Belle each finished with 10 points. Benin Lee had a pair of free throws.
“This is a great group of guys,” Edick said. “They’re very athletic. They’re learning that their hard work pays off in the classroom as well as on the court.”
To a man, the Eagles (4-2) boast an impressive roster that has already been decimated by injury. They were nearly complete on Sunday, with Oyortey and Staie Raphael returning from separate injuries. The team is still missing starting center Damian Devardeleben with a knee injury. Edick hopes he’ll be back mid-January.
Sunday’s game was back and forth until the final period, when a Thomas 3 combined with two clutch buckets by Oyortey lifted MVA to a six-point lead. The Eagles ourscored Tri-State, 11-4, down the stretch to claim the win.
The games on Saturday and Sunday took a back seat to the real purpose of the event — gathering food for those less privileged. Everyone in attendance was asked to bring at least one food item. By the end of Sunday night, two tables were filled and there were bags of food lined up on either side.
The event was the brainchild of MVA athletic director Ryan Irwin and Mount Vernon YMCA youth director Eric Boggs. The pair organized the event, while Boggs arrainged for both Knox County Swarm high school teams to take part.
“This is the first year for this, but we want to make this an annual thing,” said Irwin. “We’d like to see this grow.”
Tri-State Youth Academy, located in Chesterville, services disadvantaged youth. The Gladiators are made up of the best players from the Academy’s intramural league. On Saturday, they defeated the Knox County Swarm varsity team to qualify for Sunday’s final.
The Eagles defeated the Swarm junior varsity team on Saturday.
After Sunday’s game, the Eagles celebrated on the court, then in their dorms. And they wanted a little something extra as a reward.
“They wanted me to order pizza,” Edick laughed.
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