MARION — Mount Vernon set the tone early with three 3-pointers in the first quarter and never looked back beating Marion on the road, 58-31, in the South Seven Conference opener for both teams Friday night.
“I’ve been very nervous all week about this game,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Creel. “No. 1, I don’t like playing against Gus, who is a friend, and tomorrow I’m playing against probably the best player I ever coached. I don’t like that at all. But it’s nice to go on the road and it’s nice to get a win, and it’s nice to get a conference win.”
Mount Vernon improved to 5-1 overall while Marion dropped to 2-4. The Rams junior guard Amir Spann led all scorers with 15 points with senior center Weston Brockhouse adding 12 and senior forward Lukas Cooper 11.
“The game plan was to take what they gave us and don’t force anything,” Spann said. “When we play fast stuff opens up and then you take it. You just have to convert those chances because you don’t get too many of them.”
The Rams had a good shooting night, especially at the line where they made 16-of-19 while the Wildcats had trouble at the line making just 2-of-11.
“We don’t go over free throws much at practice, so that’s something that came from experience last year when we missed a bunch and we decided we weren’t going to miss much this year,” Spann said.
The Rams dominated the boards out rebounding the Wildcats 41-28. Brockhouse and Spann were the leaders with 10 each and Jackson Creel finished with eight. Jackson Connor led the Wildcats with 10 points and nine rebounds.
“I thought we played a lot harder against Mount Vernon the last time (at the Pyramid Plus) and tonight we didn’t play nearly as hard,” said Marion coach Gus Gillespie. “They are a very good basketball team and they are going to kick your butt if you don’t play hard. Our shots didn’t go in and then I felt we got a little bit feeling sorry for ourselves defensively and that’s the sign of a young and immature team. Hopefully if that happens again they will continue to play hard defense.”
Marion got off to bad start when Hunter Campbell threw the ball out of bounds on a backdoor pass under the basket. Then 30 seconds later, Jackson Connor picked up his first foul.
Mount Vernon then got off to a great start when Lukas Cooper sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Marion responded with a 3-pointer by Rayzhaun Bardo and the score was tied 3-3 at the 1:37 mark.
After the two teams traded buckets, Mount Vernon went on a 12-3 run, that included back-to-back 3’s by Creel, to take a 17-8 lead into the second quarter. The only points Marion had during that run was a 3-pointer by Boston Zeigler.
The Rams opened the second quarter at the line with Weston Brockhouse making two followed by a steal by Cooper on which he was fouled and he made both attempts.
Marion then drew fouls on consecutive possessions, but could only make one of four free throw attempts. Carson Post then hit Mount Vernon’s fourth 3-pointer from the left corner to up its lead to 24-9 with 4:13 remaining in the first half.
After the two teams traded buckets, Simon Wilson drew a foul with 1:33 remaining and made both free throws, but Connor made a 3-pointer from the left corner 15 seconds later to cut the lead to 30-16 at the half.
Brockhouse got the Rams off to a fast start in the third quarter scoring the first basket on a rebound and the second underneath the basket off a pass. Brett Lewis blocked a shot which lead to jumper by Boston Ziegler, but Wilson hit Mount Vernon’s fifth 3-pointer in response.
Lewis then drew a foul, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. A minute and a half later, Cooper was sent to the line and the senior forward made both. Creel then stole the ball and passed to Spann for an easy layup to up the lead to 23 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.