Clever, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Friday night in Clever, two highly talented teams took the court to face off. The Mt. Vernon Mountaineers (14-4) traveled to the home of the Clever Blue Jays (14-3) and came away with a tough fought victory, 54-45.
Mt. Vernon and Clever started the game deadlocked, trading baskets early. After a Blue Jay timeout, the Mountaineers went on an 11-2 run to close out the opening period.
Sophomore Luke Call accounted for nine of Mt. Vernon’s 17 first quarter points; all nine of Call’s points came off of three point attempts.
Clever is known to be a high-powered offense. However against Mt. Vernon, the Blue Jays had issues finding their stroke in the first half. Clever, who could over match Mt. Vernon with speed and contest with their height, had no answer on either ends of the court for the strength the Mountaineers brought.
Mt. Vernon was able to overpower their smaller defenders inside, thus resulting in relatively easy baskets and a growing lead on the scoreboard. Sophomore Chandler Myers was consistent in his offense game throughout the night, scoring both inside and out. Myers scored 11 points in the first half, and tied for the game-high with 20 points.
“I thought we were really good defensively, especially in the first half,” Mt. Vernon head coach Skip Brock said. “Our offense was really good early in the game too, which all helped us get that early lead. It is essential on the road to play good early.”
Turnovers where key for both teams in the game.
During the time when they were able to obtain an 11-point lead, Mt. Vernon was dominating the turnover battle. However, when Clever began becoming safer and smarter with the ball, they were able to keep the game within arms reach and slowly begin to claw their way back into the game. At the half though, it was the Mountaineers who possessed a 26-15 lead.
Clever came out of the break shooting distance shots, the same as they were doing in the first half. The difference between the first and the second half was that the Blue Jays were able to get some of their shots to fall in the third quarter. Clever knocked down two consecutive three pointers to start the period, cutting the lead down to only five points.
Senior Dalton Fisher was the common go-to-guy for the Blue Jays throughout the night, as he ran the team from the point guard position and lead Clever in scoring with points in the game, 15 of which came in the second half.
Before the Blue Jays could gain any more momentum, Mt. Vernon put a halt to Clever’s offense and picked up where they left off in the first half. The Mountaineers matched Clever’s run with a 7-0 run of their own. Neither team was able to gain much ground on the scoreboard after the two early runs, but Mt. Vernon was able to add four points to their halftime lead as they headed into the final period.
“I think we have several weapons on our team and that we are a balanced team on offense and on defense,” Brock said.
With a quick-striking offense, like Clever, Coach Brock went over with his team to prepare them to take a few punches from the Blue Jays, but then be able to get back up and make the most of their offensive possessions. Though they were outscored by Clever in the fourth quarter by six points, Mt. Vernon was able to keep their composure and knock down clutch free throws in the final minute.
“We knew they would make a run and if we could withstand it we could win the game,” Brock said. “We made enough free throws to win and this is victory is especially big because it was on the road against a great team like Clever. Plus, we got some great work in a close late game situation, which will help us down the road.”
With the victory, Mt. Vernon improves to 14-4 as they head into the Nixa Invitational starting on Thursday, January 24. Clever falls to 14-3 with the loss, and will prepare for another home game on Tuesday, January 22, this contest being against Blue Eye High School.
Mt. Vernon Scoring: Chandler Myers 20, Luke Call 17, Zane Phillips 9, Shane Williams 8
Clever Scoring: Dalton Fisher 20, Travis Pennewell 9, Matt Hamilton 7, Ryan Farmer 5, Jared Albright 2, Colton Pemberton 2
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