MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon brought out the defensive clamps in its opener Tuesday, nearly shutting out the lights in the process.
The Yellow Jacket boys basketball team clamped down on Highland with a long, active defense, shutting down the Scots in a 65-32 victory for MV at the Hive.
“It’s always good in Game 1 to get the win, especially at home,” said Mount Vernon coach Nick Coon. “For the most part, our defense played at a high level, which is big. We did not shoot the three well or shoot our free throws well, but our defense did the job.”
The Yellow Jackets held Highland to just 32 percent shooting from the field (12 of 37) and forced 20 turnovers on the night. The pressure started from the opening tip, as Highland scored just two points in the first six minutes of the game.
“They are long, athletic and experienced. That’s a really good team,” said Highland coach Chris Powell. “I told their coach if they play like that every night, they can be toward the top of their league.”
The defense helped MV overcome a bit of a slow start offensively, as well. The Jackets only scored six points in that same six-minute start to the game.
But, once they started hitting the boards hard, things started to fall into place for MV’s offense. The Jackets had 12 offensive rebounds, resulting in six easy putbacks.
“I think we were active and getting after it (on the boards),” Coon said. “But, we missed a lot of shots, so we had a lot of opportunities. When we get our mindset of attacking the rim, we do pretty well.”
The Jackets led 14-7 after one quarter, but effectively put the game away with a strong second, outscoring the Scots 21-6. The three-point bombs started falling in the second, as Nolan Meier hit two and Connor Fisher had one in the period.
From there, Mount Vernon put things on cruise control, even as the lights flickered during the second half.
Blake Meyer led the Jackets with 14 points and eight rebounds. Evan Boatwright added 13 points and six board, while Meier had 10 points. Fisher finished with seven points and two assists, and Spencer Bills had six points and three assists. Cory Berg recorded three steals.
Highland was led by Drew Santo, who hit three triples en route to 11 points. Branton Howard added 10 points and Jordan Bellamy had six. Gavin Hankins and Bryant Marcum both pulled down five rebounds.
“I thought our guys competed really hard. We never quit and never lost our composure,” Powell said. “The kids did all the things we asked them to do. They battled through adversity tonight. … This is a learning experience for us. We didn’t get the results we wanted, but there’s a silver lining in there … I’m really, really proud how we competed.”
Mount Vernon also dominated the junior varsity contest, beating the Scots, 56-11.
Nolan Belcher led the Jackets with 12 points. Weston Porter added nine, while Gavin Moyer had eight and Manny Durfee seven.
Highland was led by Aaron Gannon, who scored seven points. Kadin Murta added two.
The Scots don’t play again until next Tuesday when they host Cardington. Mount Vernon has an even longer layoff, not playing again until Friday, Dec. 13, at Ashland.