By Steve Joos.
The weather outside was the hottest of the summer so far, but it was cool inside, so why not stay indoors and watch some of the area’s better girls’ basketball players sharpen their skills for the upcoming season?
That’s what a number of people did Saturday in Mount Vernon as the Lady Wildcats hosted their first annual Girls’ Basketball Shootout at the high school gyms.
“I think we played really well,” Lady Cats’ coach Steve Mitchell said. “We played three really good teams and went 2-1. We had two starters out for that last game and if we would have both of those starters, we would have won that game.”
But the absence of starters Jade Dixon and Lauren Stemple from the scrimmage with Barr-Reeve gave some other girls a chance to play and work on their games, which was a chance to step up as well, Mitchell added.
The Lady Wildcats also had to shuffle some players into different positions and that might pay dividends down the road as well.
The Lady Vikings were 47-41 winners in their contest with Mount Vernon, but had to hold off a late comeback bid by the hosts after they built a 15-point lead at one stage of the game.
Earlier, Mount Vernon defeated Southridge 42-25 and Silver Creek 34-32.
“Those are three good teams and to come out with two wins is a great way to end the summer,” Mitchell said. “Southridge is an excellent team and we beat Silver Creek this morning. I think what happened is that we got a little tired and losing Jade and Lauren may have affected the way we got out and guarded people. Also it affected our zone offense a little bit.”
Dixon was injured during the game with Barr-Reeve, turning an ankle, while Stemple went down during the Silver Creek contest when she ran into a screen and suffered concussion-like symptoms. The loss of the two senior leaders took a lot out of Mount Vernon, but the Lady Cats gave a strong effort, cutting the deficit to six points at the end.
Each game consisted of two 18-minute quarters with a running clock except for free throws. In addition to Mount Vernon’s pool there was a second group which included Mater Dei, Mount Carmel and Sullivan.
Mater Dei and Mount Carmel officered one of the more interesting personal pairings, as Laura Muensterman led Mater Dei, while Tyra Buss came in with the Lady Aces. Mater Dei eventually won the game.
As for Mount Vernon, Mitchell felt that the day showed that the Lady Cats showed they could compete with some of the tougher teams in the conference and the state (Mater Dei is the defending Class 2A state champion, for instance), while also showing what the team had to work on.
“I also have some ideas in the back of my head what we have to do,” the coach added. “There are things that we did very well and things we had to work on.”
The Lady Cats played better Saturday than in their recent trip to the Pike Central Shootout, which the junior varsity won. The presence of Jacey Ritzert was one factor, Mitchell said, adding that she is getting back into shape from an injury.
The team also played well against stronger competition in an earlier shootout at Murray State University in Kentucky, winning three games there, the coach added.
This was Mount Vernon’s first such girls’ shootout and Mitchell was pleased with the turnout and the fan support, adding that the summer has been productive for the team.
“We’ve played about 15 games in June,” Mitchell said. “Winning and losing wasn’t as important as getting better and I think we’ve done that. We’ve had the best turnout for open gym that we’ve ever had, so it’s been a good summer.”
Mitchell again thanked the community for its support and the turnout on Saturday.
Hey, why not?
It was cool inside and the basketball was good.