By Mike Myers
A solid second half wasn’t enough to overcome a sloppy first half for the Washington Hatchets as Mt. Vernon remained unbeaten with a 53-48 win at the Hatchet House on Friday.
After ending the Lions’ undefeated season a week ago, Washington (2-6, 0-1) found the going tougher against Class 3A No. 10 Mt. Vernon (8-0, 3-0). The game was even early on before the Wildcats pulled ahead at the end of one quarter 16-8, and Mt. Vernon would go on to forge a 29-19 lead at halftime.
Washington suffered from breakdowns on both ends of the floor. On offense, the Hatchets inability to take care of the basketball - 10 turnovers at the half and 18 for the game - prevented the Hatchets from keeping up with the hot shooting Wildcats. Mt. Vernon hit the basket at a 48 percent (10-21) clip in the first half.
But the Hatchets didn’t quit, using a 9-4 run to outscore Mt. Vernon 15-9 and cut the Wildcat lead to 38-34 heading into the final eight minutes of play. Washington scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer from Jarrod Purdue, a free throw from Jake Brashear, and a bucket from Cullen Arnold, to claim the Hatchets’ first lead of the game since early in the first quarter at 40-38 with 6:06 to play.
At that point, however, the turnover problem that hampered WHS in the first half returned. Washington committed turnovers on seven consecutive possessions in the final 6:00 of action as Mt. Vernon closed out the win, a game that the Hatchets had a chance to win according to coach Gene Miiller.
“We had a great opportunity (in the fourth quarter). We took the lead and had a chance to win the ballgame, and then we turned the ball over the next seven possessions,” said Miiller. “It kind of reminded you of the end of the Forest Park game a few weeks ago.
“In the third quarter, we just had one turnover and came back, that’s where we came back. We shoot the ball pretty well, but we just have to get shots,” added Miiller. “We’re just not doing a very good job of taking care of the basketball. That’s got to be the emphasis for the rest of the season.”
Cullen Arnold led WHS with 15 points and also added 16 rebounds. Jarrod Purdue hit a trio of 3-pointers on the way to 11 points, while Jake Brashear added seven points. Tyler Stoll added six points for the Hatchets and pulled down three rebounds. Andy Garland netted four points and four assists, while Colton Garland scored three points and Jake Bedwell two points to round out the Hatchet scoring.
Washington improved defensively in the second half, switching to a half court zone defense after halftime that Miiller praised.
“Defensively we didn’t do a bad job. We switched to a zone in the second half, which is unusual for us, but the kids did a nice job with it,” said Miiller. “Early, when we were in man, they were just hard for us to guard. We went to the zone, it got them standing around and slowed them down offensively.”
Mt. Vernon placed three players in double figures, led by Brian Koch’s 17 points. Bryce Newman added 11 points and Collin Varner 10 for the Wildcats.
“They’re a good basketball team, they’re undefeated for a reason. But we had our chance and we just didn’t finish it off,” said Miiller. “That’s the thing right now. We’ve been in every game except the Bosse game, we just haven’t been able to finish things off. Hopefully we’ll learn that in the next two months, and if we do, we’ve got a chance to win at tournament time.”
Mt. Vernon fought off the Hatchets for a 47-43 win in the reserve contest. Matthew Sparks led the Hatchets with 10 points, followed by Nicholas White with eight points.
The Hatchets remain home on Friday when they host Evansville Mater Dei.
MV 16- 13- 9- 15- 53
WHS 8- 11- 15- 14- 48
Mt. Vernon (53)
Newman 5 1-2 11, Varner 3 4-7 10, Redman 1 2-2 4, Koch 7 0-4 17, Irvin 1 2-2 4, VanZant 3 1-2 7.
Totals: 20 10-17 53
Purdue 4 0-0 11, C. Garland 1 1-2 3, A. Garland 2 0-0 4, Brashear 3 1-2 7, Stoll 3 0-0 6, Bedwell 1 0-0 2, Arnold 4 7-11 15.
Totals: 18 9-15 48
3-point goals: MV; Koch 3. W; Purdue.
Officials: Hammond, Wright, Waggoner.
Junior Varsity: Mt. Vernon, 47-43.