Mt. Vernon eased off the gas a bit early, but recovered to beat rival Aurora at home on Tuesday night.
Mountaineers sophomore forward Chandler Myers led all players with 24 points, and teammate Shane Williams scored 20 in a 73-53 victory over the Houn’ Dawgs.
Aurora trailed by double digits for most of the third quarter before closing with a 9-2 run to get within six points at the start of the fourth.
That’s when Mt. Vernon delivered a quick response.
The Mountaineers scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter to go up 60-42 and put the game away for good. Aurora coach Daniel Cutbirth blamed a lack of team play for the disastrous stretch.
“It was selfish basketball,” Cutbirth said. “It was ‘one pass, shot.’ We all wanted to be the hero basically. On the defensive side, we did the same thing. They just worried about guarding their man. We didn’t play very good team defense.
“And then we got in panic mode and started turning the ball over. But it was just selfishness. We weren’t disciplined enough.”
A 3-pointer from freshman Josh Fronbarger got Aurora within 46-36 at the 2:50 mark of the third quarter and jump-started the Houn' Dawgs.
With its’ double-digit lead down to six at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon got hot. Zane Phillips converted a three-point play just seconds into the period.
Luke Call and Phillips then hit consecutive 3-pointers, and Myers capped the 12-0 spurt with his own three-point play.
“We got a little bit of distance in the third quarter from them and then we got sloppy,” said Mountaineers coach Skip Brock. “Credit (Aurora), they kept playing hard and made that little run. But I was really pleased with the way our guys responded at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
“We’re just not playing as consistently as we need to; we still haven’t played 32 minutes the way we need to play, but every team is probably in that boat. It’s early.”
Senior Jordan Fronbarger led Aurora with 14 points.
Cutbirth said Aurora has undergone some personnel changes since Christmas break, and has a much different roster now than at the start of the season.
“There were times tonight where we had three freshmen on the court at the same time. I thought this would be a great test to see where our young kids are at,” Cutbirth said. “And it showed, it showed our inexperience. Now we know what we need to work on. What matters most is how good we are in March.”
Aurora (6-7) plays Friday night at Hollister. Mt. Vernon (13-4) travels to Clever on Friday night in a matchup featuring two of the top Class 3 teams in the area.
Mt. Vernon 73, Aurora 53
Mt. Vernon 17 18 13 25 --- 73
Aurora 13 12 17 11 --- 53
Aurora – Jordan Fronbarger 14, Andrew Parker 11, Josh Fronbarger 11, Garrett Bader 10, Logan Bader 4, Skylar Cahill 3
Mt. Vernon – Chandler Myers 24, Shane Williams 20, Zane Phillips 14, Luke Call 12, Joey Curl 3
Mt. Vernon B 43, Aurora B 31