By Steven Kochersperger
Sparky Anderson once said that good seasons start with good beginnings. North Posey’s boy’s basketball team came into Friday’s matchup with in county rival Mount Vernon riding a three-year winning streak against the Cats. Not since the current Wildcat seniors were in the eighth grade had a Wildcat varsity basketball team beaten the Vikings.
But that changed Friday night as the Mount Vernon Wildcats took control of the game early, beating North Posey 70-54 to end the three-year drought.
The Wildcats continued their great start the very next day as Mount Vernon traveled to Mater Dei and came out victorious 51-39. This is first time Mount Vernon has started the season 2-0 since the 2003-2004 season.
“We played really well tonight,” Mount Vernon coach Marc Hostetter said. “We’re starting to take what we do in practice and put it on the floor. North Posey was a stern test and very strong and physical, but our guys stood up to the test. The guys are excited to get this win. They know about the streak. We try not to make too much out of one game especially with this one being the first game. It’s a good way to open up at home with our county rivalry and we are happy with the outcome.”
The Wildcats and Vikings battled in the first period of play testing each other and each going on runs to keep the score tight. Down early 6-2, the Vikings went on a 7-0 run that gave them the lead.
But Mount Vernon answered the Viking run with a run of their own and at the end of the first period of play the Wildcats found themselves ahead 14-11.
It was in the second period that the Wildcats took control of the game. Behind the shooting of senior Brian Koch, who hit three big 3-pointers in the period and five altogether in the game, the Wildcats stretched their lead at the half to 31-20.
“They outscored us 17-9 in that second quarter,” first-year Viking head coach Heath Howington said. “That forced us to make adjustments defensively and offensively and it’s tough to recover from that.”
Mount Vernon would keep the lead in the double digits until North Posey made one last run in the final period of play.
With six minutes left in the game the Vikings went on a run to pull within eight points of the Wildcats at 43-35. Viking junior Michael Bender had eight points in the fourth period to lead the way in the comeback and North Posey did all it could to stretch the time out and give themselves a chance. In the end the Wildcats hit their all important free throws and won the game 70-54 to open their season.
“Give Mount Vernon a lot of credit,” Howington said. “They came out and played really well and hit the shots they needed to.”
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Koch’s 27 points. Koch was an instrumental part of the Wildcat victory not only playing well offensively but leading the way defensively as well.
“It’s really tough to guard when Koch can step out there and hit that shot,” Howington said.
Koch’s great play seemed to spread as the Wildcats ended the game with three players in double figures.
“Brian is one of our best offensive players,” Hostetter said.”When you have your best offensive player take the commitment he did tonight defensively and offensively, that becomes contagious and it carried over to the rest of the team.”
The other Wildcats in double figures were junior Bryce Newman, who had 17 points, and senior Colin Varner, who had 12.
The Vikings were led by senior Wes Harness, who had 18 points and Bender finished with 12 while senior Alec Werry had 10 for the Vikings.
The Vikings dropped to 0-2 on the season and the Wildcats went to 1-0.
Both teams know they have a lot of time left to make this season what they want it to be. And while good seasons start with good beginnings, both these teams have the pieces they need to make some noise and make Posey County proud.
In reserve action, the Vikings won a nail bitter, 43-42 over the Mount Vernon Wildcats.
Both teams will be in action this week. The Vikings will be at home Friday against Heritage Hills and the Wildcats will play at home against Boonville (Friday) and South Spencer (Saturday).
The Vikings will host Pocket Athletic Conference rival Heritage Hills in action on Friday evening. The reserve game is slated for 6 p.m. and the varsity game for 7:30.
By Steven Kochersperger
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