MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon versus Big Walnut rivalry is big time. Friday night, the Yellow Jackets were able to bounce one of their biggest rivals out of the gym, defeating the Golden Eagles, 60-48, in boys basketball action.
The game was intense, and it was evident that both teams wanted to win. Mount Vernon (7-2, 4-1 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division) had the edge throughout the game, though, and the home crowd was treated to a fairly easy victory.
“It’s a battle with these guys,” said Mount Vernon head coach Kurt Kaufman. “It’s been a rivalry for a long time. You can see it in the fans and you can see it in the players. It gets heated up.”
Action was back and forth in the first quarter with Big Walnut (5-4, 2-2 OCC) relying on the long shot in the early going. Mount Vernon was down, 10-6, before going on a 10-0 run to take the lead. The Jackets never again surrendered the lead after the first quarter as it ended with the Jackets ahead, 20-15.
The second quarter was the difference in the game. Mount Vernon burst out to its second 10-0 run of the game, and outscored the Golden Eagles, 15-4, in the quarter to take a 35-29 lead into the half. Ben Severns scored seven of those 10 points to lead the charge.
“I thought the key was, defensively, we got into stances where we could play good defense,” said Kaufman. “Most of their shots came from outside and we were really able to get the ball inside. I think that was the difference in that second quarter.”
In the second half, Mount Vernon maintained its lead without any serious Big Walnut threat. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Jackets had a 60-37 lead. They held the Golden Eagles down until the final few minutes of the game when Big Walnut went on an 11-0 run. By then, however, it was far too late for any real chance of a comeback and Mount Vernon cruised to the win.
The fourth quarter was not without incident, however, as the game was briefly halted while a Big Walnut fan was ejected from the game. Despite the intensity in the bleachers, the players on the court maintained their calm.
“I thought both teams did a good job of keeping things in check,” Kaufman said. “There was some stuff going on with the fans, but the kids on the floor understand sportsmanship and showed it.”
Mount Vernon had a triple threat of scorers as they had three different players in double figures. Cuy Sheffield scored 19 points, Joe Scott scored 18 points and Severns had 14 points. Sheffield took over the game in the second half, scoring 12 of his 19 total points in the third and fourth quarters.
“[Sheffield, Scott and Severns] really played well tonight,” said Kaufman. “Cuy has been pretty consistent for us all year. Shooting 9-of-10 from the foul line is what you want out of your point guard. Ben has really turned it on in the last couple of games; his intensity on both ends of the court speaks for itself. We were just waiting on Joe to have a game like that. He has all the tools and he showed it tonight.”
The win is a big one for the Jackets. They are now tied with the Olentangy Orange team atop the Capital Division and are in the driver’s seat for the league title.
“One of our goals is the league championship,” said Kaufman. “The only thing we can control is our next game. Tonight, it was Big Walnut. We are going to enjoy this one, but Monday its right back to work. We have to take it one game at a time and not overlook anyone. We have to prepare hard for everyone.”
Mount Vernon’s next game is at New Albany on Friday night. The game kicks off with junior varsity action at 6 p.m.
In junior varsity play, Mount Vernon remained undefeated, downing Big Walnut, 42-30. The Jackets (9-0) were led by T.T. Crouch, who scored 12 points. Clint Ingersol chipped in 11 points.