MOUNT VERNON — The Delaware Hayes Pacers visited “The Hive” for a girls basketball game on Wednesday night against Mount Vernon, and Yellow Jacket senior Niki DiGuilio gave them a warm welcome.
DiGuilio lit up the nets for 35 points and the Jacket defense held the Pacers to just 14-of-49 shooting in a 50-34 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory. DiGuilio was 12-of-23 for the game from the field, including 5-of-9 from three-point range, and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
“We’re glad to be back home; we’ve been on the road for four straight games, so it is always nice to come back to your home court. Winning doesn’t hurt either,” said Mount Vernon head coach Doug Savage. “Playing at home gives you a little bit of advantage. Our goal was to hold them to 40 points or lower because that’s kind of been our magic number. In the games we’ve been able to win, we’ve held teams in the 30s, so we challenged the kids before the game. We felt like we could score more than that. We ended up scoring 50 points, but we had the opportunities to score more than that. I thought our team defense was good. We rebounded with a much bigger team; they didn’t get a whole lot of putbacks.
“We’ve been working a lot on our man-to-man offense, and we’ve got a number of different sets. I try to impose on the girls that they are all good if they are executed. ... If we are patient and let the play develop, somebody is going to get a good shot. Tonight it was Niki most of the time, but there were other people that got her the ball in good positions, and for the most part, we didn’t take too many dumb shots. Our offensive execution was pretty decent and (Niki) had a hot shooting night to go along with it.”
The game was close for the first 21 minutes with neither team leading by more than five points. It wasn’t until a 10-2 run by DiGuilio (two 3-pointers and two jumpers) in the final 3:08 of the third quarter that the Jackets started to pull ahead. That run left Mount Vernon, which led 19-18 at halftime, with a 35-25 lead after three.
A layup by DiGuilio and a 3-pointer by Jauni Gleason off an assist by Keli Thompson, opened the lead to 15 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. Delaware, which hadn’t scored back-to-back buckets since the first quarter, answered with three 3-pointers, including two from Chelsie Burden, to cut the lead to 12, 43-34. DiGuilio hit a 3-pointer of her own in that stretch to offset the Pacers, who also got a 3 from Caroline Welker.
A three-point play by Karina Shackle, however, proved to be the shot that swung momentum back in Mount Vernon’s favor. Shackle passed on a wide-open 3, and drove the baseline to the basket. She successfully laid a shot in and was fouled to push the lead back out to 12. DiGuilio capped the game with two sets of free throws in the final 30 seconds for a 16-point margin.
“Karina got the one on the corner, beat her girl and made it a three-point play; that was a big play for us,” said Savage. “That kind of got the momentum settled back down, and we were able to close it out.”
Delaware looked strong coming out of the game, with Burden hitting a pair of buckets to stake it to a five-point lead, but DiGuilio began to get going in the final three minutes of the first quarter. She outscored the Pacers, 8-6, and Mount Vernon trailed after one, 11-8.
Then, in the second quarter, neither team could do much from the field. The Jackets made three shots the entire quarter, but took a 19-18 lead after going 5-of-10 from the free-throw line. Mount Vernon was 6-of-22 from the field in the first half, while Delaware was 8-of-27. The Pacers were also just 1-of-7 from the free-throw line.
“We gave away some point at the free-throw line and we gave away some breakaway layup points,” said Savage. “I would have liked to made some of those layups and finished a few more shots, but I’m proud of our effort.”
In addition to her big scoring night, DiGuilio had six rebounds, a steal and a block. Shackle had seven points and four rebounds; and Gleason had five points and two steals — all in the second half after getting into foul trouble. Tori Flemming added one point and a game-high 10 rebounds; and Thompson had two points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Welker led Delaware with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Burden dropped in 13 points, and had five rebounds and three assists; Cynthia Bowman was held to just two points, but had four assists and two steals; and Corsica Barber added four points, five rebounds, two steals and four blocks.
In reserve action, Mount Vernon improved to 10-4 with a 37-25 victory over the Pacers. Abree Green led the Jacket charge with 14 points, and Abby Lyons had a career-high seven points.
Mount Vernon returns to action on Friday in another OCC Capital Division contest. Franklin Heights comes to town for a varsity-only contest, beginning at 6:30 p.m.