Here’s tonight’s recap of Mount Vernon’s win over New Rochelle:
MOUNT VERNON — The crowd was large and began to stir as the play grew chippier by the second. Instead of gliding from baseline to baseline amid the cheers, Mount Vernon found itself rolling around on the court with New Rochelle chasing loose balls.
Not surprisingly, the Knights failed to score the first four-plus minutes and were stuck in a tie game at halftime.
“I think we got a little too caught up in the rivalry as opposed to (playing) good basketball to watch,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said.
In the second half, a few contentious moments fueled the crowd, which, in turn, seemed to finally spark the listless Knights. They pulled ahead and pulled away from New Rochelle, winning 60-47 to earn a season sweep over their chief rival.
”We wanted to tell them that’s we’re Mount Vernon and we’re a good team,” said senior point guard Josh Doughty, who had a game-high 22 points and hit five 3-pointers. “If you want to get chippy, we can get chippy and play good defense. That’s what happened.”
Indeed, the Knights (16-1) exposed New Rochelle’s primary weakness by forcing 29 turnovers. It allowed them to overcome a halftime rebounding deficit that had as much to do with the absence of foul-plagued forward Brandon Martin as it did with the effort of Huguenot seniors Joe Clarke (pictured right) and Khalil Edney.
“We definitely picked it up in the second half when I came in,” said Martin, who had all 10 of his points in the second half and grabbed five rebounds. “That’s what I was trying to do: Rebound, hit the offensive and defensive boards.”
Clarke and Edney’s offensive rebounding helped even the game 22-22 at the break. Senior guard Jamal Lewis scored seven points off the bench in the first quarter for Mount Vernon in his return from a knee injury.
In the second half, it was Martin’s return, Doughty’s shooting and the play of junior Devonte Banner (11 points, pictured above) that helped quicken the pace and stretch the lead to double digits.
“We knew we could play better than we did in the first half,” Banner said. “We just had to play better defense.”
New Rochelle responded one last time, cutting its deficit to six early in the fourth quarter. Its momentum dissipated when Clarke (17 points, 8 rebounds) threw down a thunderous dunk over a defender. Instead of trimming the deficit further, the basket was waived off for charging. The gap only widened with the Huguenots’ inability to protect the ball.
“Every game we’ve lost, we’ve had over 20 turnovers,” said New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young, whose team fell to 8-9. “That’s not taking care of the ball and we have to do a better job than that.”