MOUNT VERNON — If the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets can figure out how to stretch a fourth period into an entire game, they may not lose again this season.
After being shut out in the first period, and trailing by 20 after the third, the girls basketball team turned up the heat on Big Walnut on Friday.
The Jackets forced turnovers — lots of turnovers — but couldn’t overcome their early deficit as they lost, 46-36, in Ohio Capital Conference action.
It was like watching two different teams wearing the Mount Vernon uniform. As the fourth period began, the Jackets trailed, 38-18. But in the fourth, Mount Vernon went on an 18-8 tear to make the score — and the game — respectable.
“We just haven’t come out with that urgency,” said Mount Vernon head coach Joe Rucker. “We didn’t hit that panic button until the fourth quarter. I told them not to worry about the score, just go out there and attack. You saw what kind of team we can be.”
A quick 3-pointer by senior Keli Thompson just seconds into the fourth started the rally. Then the team’s one-on-one full-court pressure forced the Eagles into careless mistakes. At one point, Big Walnut had seven turnovers in nine possessions.
Three straight turnovers came on plays by sophomore Madi Montgomery. Although credited with just one steal, she was able to deflect passes away, with Thompson the beneficiary. Later, it was Thompson who deflected passes on two straight possessions. Although each player earned five steals apiece, both were responsible for nearly all of the team’s 17 steals in the game.
That aggressive play led to opportunities on the other end. Thompson had 19 of her team-high 23 points in the second half, including eight in the final period. Mount Vernon (3-7, 1-6 OCC) shot 9-for-21 (42.7 percent) from the field in the second half, which was an improvement from the team’s 3-for-16 in the first half.