Mt. Pleasant moves closer to playoffs
With the high school boys basketball regular season entering the stretch run, Mt. Pleasant finds itself trying to hold on to one of the four postseason positions in Section 3-AAA. On Tuesday, the Vikings took a huge step toward securing a playoff berth with a 62-47 victory over visiting Yough.
“I think this was a crucial game for us,” Mt. Pleasant coach Tony Splendore said. “It was a home game, and we want to win our section home games. Now, we are in the driver's seat (for a playoff spot). This game was very important.”
Mt. Pleasant moved into third place in the section, one-half game ahead of Derry. The Vikings secured the victory with solid shooting and tough defense.
The Cougars (6-12, 3-6) led, 4-3, early in the first quarter, but the Vikings (9-8, 5-4) responded with an 8-0 run to take an 11-4 lead. Mt. Pleasant never relinquished the lead, holding a 12-8 edge after one quarter and building a 33-18 advantage at the half.
“I think the difference in the game was that we played really well defensively, especially in the first half,” Splendore said. “We held them to 18 points in the first half. And offensively, we got the ball inside. We're learning how to play together and we're learning how to win.”
The Vikings began to pull away in the second quarter after Ryan Gumbita and Mitch Matlas hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Gumbita led Mt. Pleasant with 15 points.
Matlas finished with nine points. While Gumbita and Matlas provided an outside threat, Cody Monroe and Luke Liprando were dominant on the inside. Monroe sliced through the Yough defense for 15 points and Liprando had a strong game in the paint, finishing with 10 points.
Liprando's main offensive thrust was in the third quarter as he hit three big baskets to help the Vikings take a 45-27 lead. The Cougars rallied in the fourth quarter as Dom Miele and Ben D'Amico each made some open baskets.
Miele led all scorers with 17 points, and D'Amico finished with 12 points. Josh Sterner added nine points.
Despite a strong final frame, the Cougars were never able to put together a serious rally. Still, the effort was there, according to Yough coach Wayne Greiser.
“We missed some easy shots and some foul shots, and the turnovers killed us in the first half,” Greiser said. “They have some pretty good shooters, but we played to the final buzzer so I'm happy with that.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.