SENECA — Three definitely proved to be the magic number for the Mount Vernon Lady Mountaineers in their Class 3, District 12 championship game Saturday night against the Seneca Lady Indians.
Mount Vernon’s commanding 55-28 victory over Seneca gave the Lady Mountaineers their third straight district title and their third victory against Seneca this season on the Lady Indians’ home floor.
Mount Vernon held Seneca to six points in the first half and the Lady Indians never really found their momentum Saturday night, hounded by Mount Vernon’s aggressive, suffocating defense.
“We struggled to get going offensively,” Mount Vernon head coach Grant Berendt said. “Defensively, I thought on the night we did an awesome job. We’ve been doing a really, really good job lately in our halfcourt D. I felt like Seneca in the first half controlled the pace of the game, the tempo. We didn’t get out in transition like we typically do. I felt like we wore them down with our pressure and what we can do in the halfcourt. We finally got some things going and got some easy baskets off layups.”
Seneca, though, managed to cut its deficit to nine at 22-13 after five straight points from a Jo Beard basket and a Chaney Platner 3-point shot.
Mount Vernon scored six unanswered to quash Seneca’s momentum and the Lady Mountaineers entered the fourth ahead 38-19, then Cameron Call’s free throws to start the fourth made it 40-19.
“Any time you play a team three times, it’s hard enough to beat them,” Berendt said. “Three times on their home court and the third time being the district championship, we knew their seniors were going to have a lot of fight in them. They just weren’t going to roll over. We talked about the challenge that we have in front of us. It was awesome, a great crowd. We need to go out and be us, and set the tone, put together a 4-0, 6-0 run and get back control of the game.”
The final basket in that six unanswered by Mount Vernon came in the form of a Call steal and a Lacy Stokes leakout and layup. Seneca head coach Drew Schulte called a timeout, displeased by the Lady Indians’ lack of hustle on that play.
“In the other two meetings, we had got a few of those early in the first half,” Berendt said. “That was one of the first ones we had gotten in this game and you could tell that Coach (Drew) Schulte was not pleased and we talked with our kids about trying to get more of those to try and lengthen it and put them away. It was a big basket for us.”
Platner did come back with a 3-point shot to stop the 6-0 run, but Mount Vernon outscored Seneca 10-3 the rest of the third and 27-12 the rest of the game.
Jo Beard led Seneca with nine points and Chaney Platner had six, Chelsea Beville four, Aliya Grotjohn three, and Taylor Mailes, Sarah Hoover, and Haley Miller two each. Beard, Platner, Mailes, and Hoover each played their final high school basketball games.
Seneca finished its season 20-8 and the Lady Indians played for a district title for the first time since 2010.
Caitlin Hicks scored a game-high 21 points for Mount Vernon and Call and Stokes each produced 10.
Mount Vernon improved to 25-4 and the Lady Mountaineers advance to sectionals on Wednesday, where they will face unbeaten Strafford, who owns an 111-game winning streak.