NEW MARKET — Southmont was pushed to its limits, but passed the test in a 62-56 win over Western Boone on Friday in boys’ basketball to move to 2-0 in the Sagamore Conference.
Tied 39-39 heading into the final quarter, the Mounties outscored the Stars 23-17 over the last eight minutes, and put the game away with a 5-0 run sparked by senior Cale Hess.
“It’s senior night and that was a big point of emphasis,” Southmont coach Jake Turner said. “I was really happy for our seniors. Cale Hess stepped up and got five huge points for us at the end to kind of seal the game.”
Hess responded to back-to-back Western Boone buckets with an acrobatic lay-up that turned into a 3-point play after the foul to make it 57-54 Southmont with 42 seconds left, before stealing a pass at midcourt and laying it in to put the game on ice.
Senior Austin Bowman scored 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter, and the Mounties (2-3, 2-0 SAC) held a comfortable 26-12 lead with 4:49 left in the first half. Just when a blowout looked attainable, the smaller and shorthanded Stars (0-3, 0-2 SAC) fought back with hot 3-point shooting.
The Stars started a pair of guards under six-foot in 5-foot-8 Seth McClaskey and 5-foot-7 Casey Baird — ultimately turning to the outside game to stay in it.
After starting the game 2-of-10 from beyond the arc, Western Boone knocked down three-straight triples to end the half on a 9-0 run to make it 26-21. The Stars were 10-of-25 from deep for the game.
“There’s a lot to work on and they definitely stressed me and the whole coaching staff out with some of our decisions and inability to get stops.” Turner said.
The third quarter was the Jonathan McAtee show. The WeBo senior scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the period on 5-of-8 shooting, including three 3-pointers. His lay-up at the 2:14 mark gave the Stars a 36-35 lead, their first since the opening minutes of the game.
“One of our points of emphasis on the scouting report was to limit the McAtee kid, because he was averaging 19.5, and with their other guys out he was clearly the head of the snake,” Turner added. “And we talked about if you cut off the head of the snake, the snake will die. And we did not do a very good job on him. We lost him way too many times.”
Carson Chadd had eight of his own points in the period, tying the game at 39 for Southmont heading into the fourth quarter.
Connor Garrity’s only bucket of the night broke a 39-39 tie to start the fourth quarter to put the Stars up 41-39, but the Mounties responded with a 9-2 run spanning just 1:23 and Western Boone was unable to recover. Carson Chadd made a pair of free throws, Bowman nailed a 3-pointer and Avery Saunders made a pair of easy baskets. Saunders led the Mounties with 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including eight in the decisive fourth quarter.
McAtee and Garrett Morton cut the lead to one at 55-54 with back-to-back baskets with 2:02 to go, before Hess took the game over in the final minutes.
“To lose a double-digit lead and then it was tied and they took the lead in the fourth quarter,” Turner said. “I was happy that we responded, because we kind of had a similar situation against Greencastle and I wasn’t very happy with the way we battled through that adversity. And tonight we kept coming. We made some mistakes, but we kept coming.”
For the game Southmont connected on 26-of-42 field goals for a 62% clip — one of their strongest shooting performances of the young season.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that can slash,” Turner said. “I was a little bit frustrated with our motion offense and I thought we were just playing too hesitant, so yesterday we kind of installed something a little new to the guys and I thought we executed it really well tonight, and we were able to get downhill with some of our drives.”
Chadd added 14 for the Mounties, while Logan Oppy chipped in nine. Morton had 11 and McClaskey nine for the Stars.
Southmont also honored senior Steele Baumgarder, and senior Cam King, who was unavailable for Friday's game.
Southmont is off until they face Western Boone in the semifinal of the Sugar Creek Classic at Crawfordsville on Friday, Jan. 8, while the Stars travel to Fountain Central tonight.