Defense sparks Mount Vernon to win over Rams
MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon boys basketball team was hungry for a victory.
The Yellow Jackets had lost five straight, even though they nearly won three of those games. So, when Mansfield Madison rolled in to town Friday, the Jackets feasted.
Mount Vernon used a stifling defense throughout the game, then watched the offense explode in the second half en route to a 58-27 victory over the visiting Rams in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.
“It’s been a while. Three weeks is a long time to go without winning,” said Mount Vernon coach Nick Coon. “Even though the results haven’t been there, I think behind the scenes we’ve gotten better. We’ve got a better understanding of what we’re trying to do. I think that work and that sticking together came to fruition tonight.”
The Jackets (4-6 overall, 2-2 OCC) brought their lunchpails with them the first half, doing all the dirty work needed to take control of the game. They held Madison (3-8, 1-4) to just 5 of 25 shooting in the first half to take a 20-14 lead.
“We really defended well, which helped our offense while it was struggling in the first half,” said Coon. “They (Madison) are a streaky team. They’ve had games where they really lit up the scoreboard, especially from the 3-point line. We knew we needed to guard the 3-point line and then rebound those long misses from all five of our players. They made four threes, but I think for the most part we did a pretty good job of contesting their shots and then blocking out and rebounding.”
The defense continued all night, as Madison shot just 20 percent from the field (9 of 45). The Rams also made just 4 of 20 shots from behind the 3-point line.
A halftime adjustment by the Jackets was all they needed to kick start the offense. After scoring just 20 points in the first half, MV nearly scored that many in the third quarter (15 points), then broke it open in the fourth (23).
“That was nice to see. That energy started at the defensive end. It was key to getting our offense started,” Coon said. “We talked at halftime if they were going to continue to run traps at our guys, to see the floor, look up the floor and then once we beat that initial trap, to really attack the rim and make them pay. We did a much better job of that and finding the open guy going to the rim.”
Blake Meyer was one of the big recipients of that attacking offense in the second half. The junior scored 14 of his 22 points in the final 16 minutes. Three of those buckets in an eight-point third quarter were off nice feeds from his teammates that had broken through the traps.
The Jackets continued to make Madison’s aggressive defense pay in the fourth, scoring 23 points, including going 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.
Meyer also pulled down five rebounds to go along with his team-high 22 points. Beau Bridges scored 11 points and had six rebounds for the Jackets, while Dayne Burgess had four points and a team-high seven rebounds. Spencer Bills scored five points and Evan Boatwright had four points and three assists.
Madison was led by Steven Williams, who scored eight points on two triples. Levi Zehner and Tyler Tackett both had six points, while Dylan Metz had four points and six rebounds.
Coon liked what he saw Friday and hopes it continues tonight when the Jackets travel to Big Walnut.
“All 11 guys that played brought really good energy. That was key. Our energy has been good at practice. I don’t think that’s a coincidence that our energy carried over to the game tonight,” he said. “It was good to be back in front of a really good home crowd. Our band was here tonight. They bring that energy as well. To have them there is key to the atmosphere as well. I think our players fed off that.
“We’re hoping we can carry some of this momentum into tomorrow. We have a really tough road game at Big Walnut, a quality opponent. We have an opportunity to go to Big Walnut and continue the momentum we built tonight.”
It was a clean sweep on the night for the Jackets, as both the junior varsity and freshman teams posted victories over Madison.
The jayvees (5-5) held off the Rams for a 38-36 victory. Gavin Moyer led the Jackets with eight points.
The freshman team (9-0) remained unbeaten on the season, posting a 55-25 victory. Hudson Rohler led the Jackets with 21 points.
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