MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets broke on top early and then played unrelenting defense to stop the New Albany Eagles, 51-41, in Ohio Capital Conference boys basketball action on Friday.
The win keeps the Jackets (8-2, 6-1 OCC) tied for first place with Olentangy Orange in the OCC Capital Division.
The Eagles (5-5, 4-3 OCC), a physical team with some height advantage, fell behind to the scrappy Jackets early, 13-4. Led in scoring by Riley Swanson and Bradley Fenton, who each had 13 points for the game, the Jackets never let up on either side of the court.
“We needed a game like this,” said Mount Vernon coach Kurt Kaufman. “They were physical. We jumped out to a lead and you knew that (New Albany) was going to come back. They’re a good team and we were able to take their best shot and then extend the lead ourselves, and then hold onto it at the end, making free throws.”
Swanson closed the first quarter with a 2-pointer and a 3-pointer. Will O’Hara and Seth Badger landed two more 3s for the Jackets to extend the lead to 24-7.
From there, the Jackets won the battle for the ball under the boards on both sides of the court, outrebounding the Eagles, 22-19. Led by Nathan Miller, who had seven boards, they did it with pure hustle.
“I thought our guys did a great job defensively,” said Kaufman. “Everything (New Albany) did was contested. Every shot they shot and every pass they made they had to work for. I think that started to wear on them and that forced them into some bad shots toward the end of the game.”
The Eagles never got closer than six points after Jalen Rhea hit a pair of buckets midway through the third quarter to make it 28-22.