MOUNT VERNON — There was plenty of swarming going on around The Hive, but it wasn’t the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets. The visiting Newark Wildcats swarmed after the basketball, outrebounding the Jackets and defeating them, 61-45, in non-conference basketball action Saturday evening.
The Wildcats, led by Keshawn Heard (14 points, seven rebounds) and Bobby Crenshaw (17 points, six rebounds), pulled down a game total of 25 rebounds to Mount Vernon’s 15. Newark beat the Jackets on both ends of the floor, totaling 10 offensive rebounds to the Jackets’ one. Mount Vernon had a total of 15 rebounds in the game, with Spencer Bills (four points) leading the way with four grabs.
“Newark is a big, strong and physical team,” said Mount Vernon coach Nick Coon. “It seems that they’re like that every year, and this year is no exception. They have new parts this year. They play at such a high level, intensity-wise, that it really puts a lot of pressure on us.”
The Jackets opened the game with a basket from Carson Carpenter (six points) and a 3-pointer from Noah Gleason (eight points), but that 5-0 start was their biggest lead of the game. After that, the Wildcats took charge, both inside and outside. Crenshaw had putbacks on three offensive rebounds in the first half, as well as a 3-pointer. Teammate Heard dropped in four field goals in the second quarter, putting his team on top, 32-17, with two minutes left before halftime.
The Jackets, after turning over the ball a dozen times in the first half, looked like they might right the ship. They were turning over the ball less and shooting more accurately in the final quarter. Mount Vernon’s Trey Grohe (8 points) landed a 2-pointer and a 3-pointer, and his Jackets scored 18 points in the final quarter, but it was too late.
“I thought we played well in stretches and did well in flashes, but stretches and flashes are not enough,” Coon said. “We need to play four quarters of good, solid, fundamental basketball.”
Prior to the game, the Jackets honored their former basketball coaches, Keith Merrin and Dave Moore. It was a moment that brought back great memories to long-time Jackets — including Coon.
“I heard a bunch of stories about coach Merrin growing up,” said Coon. “I was actually a ball boy when Coach Moore was here and my dad was an assistant here for 14 years. I’ve lived my whole life with great memories and fond stories of those guys. They made such a great impact on our program’s history. What a great way to honor those two — especially before the Newark game, where the history of the rivalry has been so strong.”
Earlier in the evening, the Jackets’ JV team defeated the JV Wildcats, 62-46. Blake Meyer led the way for Mount Vernon with 27 points.
The Jackets will get back to Ohio Cardinal Conference play when they visit Wooster Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.
“Wooster is relentless with their pressure, too,” Coon said. “That’s the theme of our opponents lately. They will pressure us, full court, the entire game. We’ll have to box out and rebound the basketball.”