MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon boys’ basketball team went almost six minutes without a basket in the final quarter and that was all Delaware Hayes needed to finally pull away.
The visiting Pacers went on a 13-0 run to put the game out of reach, handing Mount Vernon a 53-43 loss in non-league play Tuesday night at The Hive.
“Our nemesis this year showed back up in the second half,” Mount Vernon coach Nick Coon said. “We’re not able to convert buckets at the rim consistently or knock down big shots from the perimeter and mix in some turnovers at crucial times. They were able to go on a couple of runs.”
But it was a couple of possessions in the second quarter that changed the game, according to Coon.
The Jackets (6-14) got a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions by Connor Fisher that pushed their lead to 26-18 with 1:51 remaining in the first half. The long balls capped an 8-1 rally for Mount Vernon.
Nate Griggs drove and kicked to Paul Burris for a pair of 3s on back-to-back possessions after a Delaware timeout helped the Pacers pull within 26-24.
“We didn’t maintain or extend that lead,” Coon said. “We kind of let them off the hook there when we were playing really good basketball in the second quarter.”
Evan Boatright made a free throw to push the Mount Vernon lead to 27-24 at the break.
Boatright found Blake Meyer at the top of the key for a 3-pointer to tie the game 40-40 for the Yellow Jackets with 6:18 left.
But Addison Harvey drove the lane and scored through contact and knocked down the ensuing free throw to put Delaware back on top on its next possession.
Griggs and Ryan Smudz each buried elbow jumpers and Nabil Abdus-salaam followed with an and-1 of his own to push the lead out to 50-40 with 3:46 left.
Burris made one of two at the line and Harvey capped the rally with a basket underneath.
Delaware had three steals and forced four Mount Vernon turnovers and held a 7-4 lead on the boards in the final quarter.
“We weren’t really ready to go early on, but we were locked in in the second half,” Delaware coach Adam Vincenzo said. “We didn’t guard very well early in the first half. We turned up the pressure a little bit. We don’t usually go full-court pressure like that, but I wanted to wake us up a little bit.”
Meyer knocked down one free throw to account for the Jackets’ scoring over the first four minutes of the second half.
Even through the drought, the Jackets kept their deficit to just two. Mount Vernon kept it within a possession until the final Delaware run.
“Their length bothered us and they switched on a lot of screens,” Vincenzo said. “We made adjustments to some of the actions that we ran.”
The Jackets held a 19-5 advantage on the boards in the first half and won the battle 30-19 for the game. Six players had between three and five rebounds for the game for Mount Vernon. Meyer and Dayne Burgess had five apiece; Wyatt Kirby, Beau Bridges and Cory Berg had four each and Evan Boatright had three.
Meyer finished with 12 points and Boatright added eight to lead nine scorers for the Jackets.
“I think we’re close to breaking through,” Coon said. “I just hope we don’t run out of time.”
Burris had 15 points and 11 rebounds; Griggs added 14 points and dished out four assists and Harvey chipped in 13 points and had five steals to lead the Pacers (12-9).
Next up, Mount Vernon concludes Ohio Cardinal Conference play at home against Lexington on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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