MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets put on a defensive clinic in the first half Tuesday.
The Jackets held Hilliard Bradley to just four points in the first half, including zero in the final 12 minutes of the half, and raced to a 52-36 Ohio Capital Conference victory in boys basketball action Tuesday at The Hive.
“Defensively, we did a nice job. They didn’t get a whole lot of clean looks. They were shooting contested shots; we were rebounding the ball really well that first half. You shut a team out like that, one that can really shoot it, you’re doing something right,” said Mount Vernon coach Kurt Kauffman.
After trying to pull Mount Vernon (14-2 overall, 10-1 OCC) out its zone after the opening tip, Bradley got on the board first when Josh Starinsky hit a bucket for the Jaguars (6-8, 3-8).
But, Mount Vernon scored the next seven points, including four from Ben Hoar, to grab the momentum and the led for good.
Bradley got another basket at the four-minute mark of the first quarter, but that was all the scoring the Jags would be able to muster the rest of the half. The Jags missed their next three shots of the quarter and then all six of their shots in the second quarter as the Jackets put up a zero defensively.
Mount Vernon didn’t fare real well offensively, either, but were still able to go on a 14-0 run through the final 12 minutes of the half. Joe Scott scored all four of his points in that stretch and Tad Glibert added four as well.
Keeping the players focused with such a big lead was Kauffman’s concern at halftime. Even after an early 3-pointer from Bradley, it looked like the Jackets would continue the defensive clamps in the second half. But, just after two minutes had gone by in the third quarter, the Jags found their stride, going on an 11-0 run to pull within seven (25-18).
“We talked about the third quarter. When you have a team down like that at halftime, you’ve got to keep that intensity going, taking it to them and trying to stretch that lead. Our kids understand that. It’s something we’ve got to learn from and get better,” Kauffman said.
The Jackets were able to right the ship at that point, scoring seven straight to open the game back up. Another 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter gave the Jackets enough breathing room to coast to the victory. They then hit 10 of 15 free throws in the final quarter to keep the game on ice.
“I think we settled down. We were able to spread them out and get to the basket, then made our free throws. We shot quite a few free throws tonight. Then, in the fourth quarter, we made our free throws, which was good,” Kauffman said.
Riley Swanson led the Jackets with 12 points and two assists. Hoar added 11 points and six rebounds, while Charlie Phillips had eight points and Russell Doup had six. Scott pulled down eight rebounds to go along with his four points.
Bradley was led by Derek Tieman and Jake Forrest, who each had 11 points.
The Jackets return to action Friday, traveling to Watkins Memorial for another OCC contest.
The Mount Vernon junior varsity had an incredible fourth-quarter rally to beat Bradley, 46-42.
The Jackets (15-1) trailed 37-23 early in the fourth, but went on a 19-0 run to take the lead and went on to the victory.
Will O’Hara led the Jackets with 11 points. Nathan Miller added 10, while Dan Kelly and Ethan Abell had eight points each.