MOUNT VERNON — “The Hive” may be local basketball’s version of the St. James Infirmary lately, but the ailing Mount Vernon High School girls basketball team got just what the doctor ordered on Friday. The Yellow Jackets took apart Franklin Heights, 62-30, in Ohio Capital Conference action in a game where they could rest a few players and let some fresh faces have some minutes.
With Courtney Burke out with a torn ACL and with Rebecca Fiecoat, Jauni Gleason and Karina Shackle sick, it was a game that the Jackets had to win — especially with a few tough final games left in the regular season.
“We had a chance to get a few jayvee kids in there on the varsity floor, which is something I always like to do,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “Alex Miglin (4-of-8 field goals, two rebounds), Jordan Peppers, Taylor Strack and Abree Green (four rebounds) normally play and start in our jayvee games. My main concern, now, is to try to get everyone healthy.”
The Jackets jumped ahead 14-0, building a 23-point lead by halftime. Mount Vernon point guard Nikki DiGuilio, who led all scorers with 28 points, took this game as an opportunity to fine tune a few things.
“To be quite honest, the other team was the underdog so we just came out and did what we needed to do,” said DiGuilio (eight rebounds). “We had a couple of dry spells. It was an easy win for us but we needed this win to help us in the OCC rankings.”
“We looked pretty good at times and we got off to a nice fast start,” said Savage. “Playing five and then, bringing in another five is a hard thing to do. It’s hard to get into a rhythm and we lacked a little bit of execution, offensively, because of that.”
“We just wanted to clean up our offensive plays and tune them up a little bit,” said Mount Vernon point guard Keli Thompson, “We are really trying to work on working as a team. We came out and worked real hard.”
By late in the third quarter, Mount Vernon wing Macie Malone (who led the Jackets with three assists) missed both ends of her free throws, but post Tori Flemming (eight rebounds, six points) got the putback to give the Jackets a 47-19 lead. DiGuilio, hit a bucket to end the quarter and put the Jackets up, 49-19.
The final quarter was more of the same Thompson (seven rebounds, six points) hit her shot and converted on the ensuing free throw to stretch the lead to 35. Flemming followed with a pair of foul shots to give the Jackets their biggest lead of the game, 60-23. The Jackets were 17-of-24 from the line.
The highlight for Franklin Heights was Ciana Golden (14 points) hitting three 3-pointers during the game. The rest of the night was dismal for the Falcons, who were outrebounded 41-15 for the game.
“It was one game, we have sick people and now, we are limited,” said DiGuilio. “Originally, we started out with seven varsity, but we’re dropping like flies.”
The Jackets will savor this one because the road ahead gets a lot tougher and it starts with a trip to Hilliard Bradley on Tuesday to avenge an earlier loss.
“We just want to come together as a team and end the season really strong,” said Thompson. “We also have Big Walnut down the stretch and we want to end really strong.”
From here on out, every win is critical for the post season, but none will be easy.
“We are also home against Watkins (Memorial) on Tuesday night,” said Savage. “If we can get back to healthy, and have all of our players play like we did against Delaware (who Mount Vernon defeated 50-34 on Wednesday) that will be good. We have (state-ranked) Marion Harding and Big Walnut coming up. Both are outstanding teams. Every game we can win will give us a better seed come tournament time.”