MOUNT VERNON — It wasn’t quite how coach Kurt Kaufman had it drawn up, but the Mount Vernon basketball team was able to honor its five seniors with a victory on Saturday night.
Nathan Miller, Riley Swanson, Will O’Hara, Bradley Fenton and Dakota Chapman were honored before the Jackets’ final home game, then were on the floor together for the final seconds of a 58-56 victory over the Ashland Arrows.
“It’s not how we wanted to draw it up, but it gave them a chance to go back in and let them end the game with the ball in their hands,” said Kaufman.
The seniors had been sent off the floor with a standing ovation as the Jackets led 55-43 with 1:17 left in the game. But, Ashland (7-10) wasn’t ready to watch any celebrations and rolled off seven straight points. A three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left pulled the Arrows to within two and forced Kaufman to send his seniors back out onto the floor to secure the victory.
“The thing about Mount Vernon is these kids are home grown,” Kaufman said. “We get to see them as fifth and sixth graders with our Sunshine League. Then we see them in seventh and eighth grade, then watch them come up through freshman and jayvee until now.
“It’s nice to see the seniors develop like these guys have — not only as basketball players, but as fine young men. ... They took ownership in this program. They’ve worked with the younger kids. They are all about the program and worry about winning. They embody the Mount Vernon basketball program in all aspects.”