Early on, the Mountaineers (7-5) threatened to make it a runaway, as they opened up a 12-3 first quarter lead, holding the Cedar Countians to zero field goals and just three free throws. Slowly but surely, Stockton (6-6) used its size and experience advantages and started to chip away as a swarming defense forced a total of 22 turnovers.
The 12-point deficit was reduced to 10 by halftime and six by the end of the third quarter. With 4:53 to play in the final period, a putback bucket by 6-foot-3 sophomore Jolene Shipps tied the game at 31-all.
Even without five seniors that hoisted the big trophy last March, the reigning champions still had one more answer. It came in the form of a big 3-pointer by 5-7 senior Audrey LaSalle, that triggered a 10-3 run for the final margin of victory.
“One thing’s for sure, she’s not afraid to miss,” said Audrey’s father, Mt. Vernon coach Jamie LaSalle.
To be sure, Audrey hit two of her first three from downtown, then missed her next four before connecting again on the critical shot.
LaSalle led all scorers with 15 points including three treys. Sophomore Mackenzie Farmer, a 5-9 guard, added 14.
All-stater Tamiaya Henderson (5-11 senior) was held to just three points, but more than made up for it elsewhere with 8 rebounds, 6 steals, and 3 blocked shots.
“You look on the scores and you might think she didn’t do much, but she was all over the place tonight,” coach LaSalle said about Henderson.
Sophomore Sydnee Garrett (5-10 power forward) was the only Lady Tiger in double figures with 10 points and had 5 boards as well. Senior Kelsi Wilkins, a 5-9 forward had 8 points and 10 rebounds. Stockton next hosts district rival Lamar on Monday.
“Even though we lost, I think we grew a lot tonight and that will help us down the road,” said Lady Tiger coach Kevin Burns.
Mt. Vernon entertains Springfield Catholic on Tuesday in a bit of unusual scheduling.
“It’s weird that we’re playing them on Tuesday instead of Monday. I guess they wanted to watch Notre Dame play for the national championship on Monday,” said coach LaSalle.
Stockton 3 8 13 10—34
Mt. Vernon 15 6 9 11—41
Stockton: Sydnee Garrett 10, Emilyn Dearman 8, Kelsi Wilkins 8, Jolene Shipps 6. Mati Burns 2.
Mt. Vernon: Audrey LaSalle 15, Mackenzie Farmer 14, Megan Pope 5, Tamiaya Henderson 3, Blair Tettenhorst 2, Laynie Dake 2.