Mt. Vernon uses defense to claim girls basketball sectional title

There’s an adage in sports that defense wins championships.

by staff reporter, Paul Gable

Such is true for the Mt. Vernon High School girls basketball team, who used its defense to best conference and county foe New Palestine 35-29 Friday in the Sectional 9 championship.

The win avenged last season’s sectional final loss and a 46-40 setback earlier this year. But, most importantly, it validated what Mt. Vernon (20-5) coach Julie Shelton has preached all season.

With a 24-17 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth, Mt. Vernon appeared ready to cruise to a title. However, New Palestine’s Jordan Reid had other plans, draining a basket and sparking a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-23 with 1:30 remaining.

That’s when Mt. Vernon’s junior Tessa Freeman and sophomore Abby Worley stepped up, going a combined 9-of-10 from the free throw line to seal the victory.

For Mt. Vernon, the win gives the Marauders their first sectional title since the 2012-13 campaign when they won state.

The Marauders were led by Worley, who finished with 10. Lexi Shelton added 9 in the win.

While Mt. Vernon celebrated, New Palestine was left with thoughts of what may have been, as the tears on the faces of the eight seniors told the story.

The Dragons finished with a school best 21-3 campaign.

New Palestine coach Sarah Gizzi admitted it just wasn’t her team’s night.

Leah Seib led the Dragons with 8 points.