VEEDERSBURG — Southmont picked up their third basketball win in eight days with a 68-58 win at Fountain Central.
Never trailing, the Mounties run their record to 10-7 on the season, while the Mustangs drop to 8-10.
Shooting better than the home team on Dave Sanders Court, South was better than 50 percent from the floor and put three in double-figures.
The Mustangs couldn’t find the shooting groove, shooting just better than 40 percent. They made a run at South in every quarter, but the needed momentum-turning shot never fell.
Avery Saunders led the way for the Mounties with his third double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds. The junior was quick out of the blocks, with a dozen points and 10 boards in the first half.
Austin Bowman had 15 and Logan Oppy 14 as South was 26-of-46 from the floor, 4 of-7 from deep and 12-of-20 from the line.
The Mustangs were led in by Andrew Shabi with 15 points, and Will Harmon added 13. FC was 20-of-47 from the field, 7-of-27 from long range and 11-of-14 from the line.
While South held the lead all game, FC made a run at South in every quarter, including getting to within three points with less than three minutes to go, but the needed momentum-turning shot never fell. The fact it was that close that late was a concern to the guys on the Mounties’ bench.
“I’m a little disappointed in our defense,” South coach Jake Turner said. “It needs to be better, we need to embrace the defensive intensity more and have more consistency. Our defense will get us over the hump with the better teams on our schedule and as we get into the playoffs. We made enough plays, but we couldn’t put Fountain Central away. We took good shots, and we made a high percentage, but we had some self-inflicted mistakes that we need to clean up.”
For the Mustangs, it was a back-to-back night of taking on bigger and stronger foes.
“South has the size and athleticism,” FC coach Phil Shabi said. “They have really been playing well since the first of the year. We did a good job of competing hard, and our offensive decision-making was good, but we had to come out of our zone defense because we weren’t securing enough defensive rebounds, and they attacked our man defense. Offensively, we settled for three’s too often. We did a better job of attacking offensively in the second half.”
Both teams also faced foul issues, especially in the first half, when nine players had two fouls fairly early in the second quarter, although none fouled out.
“We had guys step up,” Turner said of the guys off the bench. “Cam King hit a big three and a couple free throws. He is such a smart kid who does great prep work, and (Steele) Baumgardner stepped in with good minutes. He continues to get better. EJ (Brewer) hit a layup at the end of the third and stole a couple passes that were really big.”
Both teams are heading for the closing stretch of the regular season.
Fountain Central lost a Tuesday game with North Montgomery, and have three left, starting with the WRC finale next Friday against North Vermillion and two road games after that.
“We have taken steps forward,” Shabi said. “Obviously we wish there were a few more wins, but our decision-making is getting better and we are more poised. We were defending well and not scoring early, and now we are scoring better but not defending as well. Our five seniors and all the team have been such a fun group to coach, especially in a crazy year like this. I love them so much. It’s all about getting better as we approach the sectionals -working hard every day at practice. We are looking forward to it.”
The Mounties travel to Monrovia Tuesday and will host Frankfort next Friday in their Sagamore finale.
“We’ve really turned the corner since the first of the year,” Turner said. “We went on the road last Tuesday and pulled out the game with South Vermillion in the second half. Tonight we had some self-inflicted errors, but every run that Fountain Central made, we pushed it back. We dealt with that adversity. They guys have stepped up when called on. I love our effort. These guys are every day guys who work hard and never take a day off. We just need to clean up those little things and we can get after those teams we need to beat in the sectional.”
South won the JV game 50-45.
Trip Ward led the Mounties with 14 points, while Hayden Hess, Adam Cox and Nick Scott each had nine.
The Mustangs were led by Ely Thompson with 13 and Koby Wolf with 10.