By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Monticello boys basketball coach Tim Lambert said he was not surprised that Mount Vernon, with a 7-15 record, was going to prove a formidable opponent in the Class 2A district semifinals.
“They had been playing well,” Lambert said. “They had won a few of them in a row in the WaMaC. In spite of their record they really had come on in the end.”
They came on one more time, gradually pulling to a 49-37 win over the Panthers Thursday, Feb. 14 in Monticello. The loss ended the Panthers’ season.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Lambert said. “You always feel bad for the seniors, and it would have been nice to get another shot at Cascade.”
The game started out well for the Panthers, who took an 8-5 lead by the end of the first quarter. Monticello led virtually throughout the first half, until the Mustangs put on a run just before the break to take a 17-14 lead.
“I thought our defense in the first half was outstanding,” Lambert said.
Mount Vernon then outscored Monticello 32-23 in the second half.
“The second half was incredibly physical,” the coach said. “That was probably not to our advantage. It was one of the most physical games I’ve ever coached here.”
The coach was quick, however, to credit the Mustangs.
“They handled our pressure better in the second half. We just had a really hard time scoring, and of course it’s harder to press when you’re not scoring.
“They got some open looks and knocked them down. They had two freshmen playing, and they really delivered.”
Sawyer Herman scored 16 points to lead the Panthers, making four shots from beyond the three-point arc. Jarrett Easton scored nine, shooting 4-for-5 from the field. Dallas Lumpa and Herman had five rebounds apiece. Lumpa also had three assists and three steals.
Monticello finished 13-3 in the Tri-Rivers Conference, taking second place, and were 14-8 overall.
“To be runner-up in the conference was a good accomplishment for our guys,” Lambert said. “We had a nice winning streak in the middle of the season (seven games).”
Mt. Vernon 5 12 16 16 – 49
Monticello 8 6 13 10 – 37
MONTICELLO (37) - Sawyer Herman 5-18 2-2 16, Matt Holmes 1-6 0-0 2, Tim Norton 0-2 0-0 0, Dallas Lumpa 1-3 0-0 2, Daniel Pike 2-3 2-2 6, Jarrett Easton 4-5 1-2 9, Craig Welter 1-1 0-0 2, Michael Melchert 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-39 5-6 37.
Three-pointers: Herman 4.
Rebounds: Monticello 22 (Herman 5, Lumpa 5, Norton 4).
Total fouls: Monticello 15.
PHOTO: A loose ball is chased by Monticello’s Matt Holmes (20) and a Mount Vernon opponent in the district semifinal game Feb. 14 in Monticello. At right is Jarrett Easton. (Photo courtesy of Dianna Rucker, Rucker Photography)