MOUNT VERNON — The was a boys basketball battle at “The Hive” on Friday night, and the host Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets swarmed at the right time. Mount Vernon posted a second-half comeback that finished with a last-second 3-pointer from Ben Severns to defeat the Franklin Heights Falcons, 48-46, in Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division action.
“This was big because it was a league win,” said Mount Vernon coach Kurt Kaufman. “We always want to win these because winning the league is our goal. To do that, we’ve got to take care of business on our behalf and see how the cards unfold at the end.”
Severns’ shot capped off a game of dramatic swings. Mount Vernon (10-4, 6-2 OCC Capital) led early, 5-0, only to see the Falcons (10-4, 5-3 OCC Capital) go on a 14-2 run over a six-minute period, which spanned the first and second quarters.
Stephen Bien, who had a career night, single handily helped bring the Jackets back before the half, outscoring the Falcons, 6-4, in the final three minutes. That left Franklin Heights in control, 24-17, at the midway point.
The real key to the game came at the start of the third quarter. Mount Vernon opened on a 10-3 run, which pulled them even at 27 with 3:03 to go. A jumper by Bien started the rally, and five points from Severns kept it going. From that point on, the lead bounced back and forth with no team leading by more than three. Tyler Worstell hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter for Franklin Heights, but another layin by Bien made it a one-point game, 34-33, after three.
Another Bien bucket opened the fourth quarter and put the Jackets ahead, but the Falcons responded with a 6-2 spurt over the next two minutes, including a pair of buckets by Peter Kpan. Mount Vernon answered back with a 6-2 run of its own after a pair of Joe Scott buckets and a layin from Tad Glibert with 3:02 to play.
A layin and two free throws put Franklin Heights up by three again, 46-43, with 1:25 to go. A pull-up jumper by Severns moved the Jackets within one with 1:12 on the clock, and solid defense set up the final shot. The Falcons tried to run down the clock by passing the ball, but Peter Ivery was eventually fouled. Ivery missed the front end of a one-and-one, however, giving Mount Vernon the ball for the final shot.
“We went up one and had the ball so I was hoping we could score to shorten the game, but they stopped us,” said Kaufman. “I think we turned the ball over, and they came down and scored to go up one. It seemed like whoever had the ball last was going to win the game.”
After unsuccessfully trying to work the ball into the post, Kaufman called a timeout with 11.2 seconds left. He then decided to go away from what had worked throughout the night — the post — and called on Severns to take the shot.
“We wanted Ben to get into the paint, and he kind of stopped a little short of the paint,” said Kaufman. “Ben has been our go-to guy in big situations like that. He did last year for us in the tournament, and tonight he did it again. He has a knack for it. He wants the ball in those situations.”
Bien finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. He also led the Jackets with eight rebounds and two blocks, and had two assists and one steal. Scott finished up with 13 points, seven rebounds, a block and a team-high four assists. Severns was the other Jacket to reach double figures, scoring 12 points.
“Our posts have stepped up,” Kaufman said. “When you look and see we got 16 from one post and 13 from another, that means we are doing some pretty good things to get the ball inside.”
Kpan posted a double-double for Franklin Heights, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds, nine of which came in the first quarter. He also had a block and two steals. Worstell finished with 11 points and five assists.
The Mount Vernon junior varsity squared had its way with the Falcons en route to a 79-33 victory. With the win, the Jackets improved to 14-0. Five players reached double figures for Mount Vernon. Riley Swanson dropped in 21 points; Dakota Anderson scored 12 points; Chris Ingersol and Kenny Rucker each added 11 points; and Andre Nixon contributed 10 points.
Mount Vernon is back in action tonight, traveling to Massillon Washington. Game time is set for 6 p.m.