Mount Gilead rides big scoring run to win over Scots
By ROB HAMILTON
It usually takes more than one good run for a team to win a basketball game, but when that good run lasts for 10 minutes and consists of 26 straight points, it usually doesn’t take much more.
That was what Mount Gilead did to Highland last Thursday in their 69–33 home win over the Scots.
Highland had come back from a first-quarter deficit to close within a 15–13 margin with 6:40 to play in the half. Unfortunately, the Scots would not tally another point until the 4:35 mark of the third quarter.
During that time, the Indians rolled off 26 points in a row to boost their lead to a 41–13 margin and Highland would not be able to recover.
Ethan and Xavier Harris got the run started. Both of them hit baskets and then followed by scoring baskets and free throws after Mount Gilead steals to boost the score to a 25–13 margin.
“Our kids are starting to play really good basketball,” said Mount Gilead coach Tom Cooper. “We told them to just trust each other and they’ll be all right. Our defense is really improved lately. The guys are getting really good at sharing the basketball and looking for each other.”
Xavier Harris added two more buckets before the end of the half and Mike Chatfield hit a three-pointer and scored five points, as the Indians boosted their lead to a 36–13 margin.
“Give them all the credit,” said Highland coach Mike Hoyng. “They hit shots early and put us on our heels. We didn’t execute offensively and we didn’t play defense well, while they’re very confident and playing at a high level.”
In the third quarter, Mount Gilead opened with a basket by Ethan Harris and Chatfield added another three-pointer to give their team a 41–13 lead.
Highland broke the Indian run with back-to-back baskets, as both Byron Belcher and Kylo Minyo lit up the scoreboard, but the Indians finished the period on another good stretch of play.
After a three-pointer by Justin Deckling brought Highland within a 43–20 margin, the Indians went on a 12–3 run to finish the third period. Chris Godfrey scored four points during that time, with both Logan Chapman and Nic Pomeroy added three.
Mount Gilead would outscore Highland 14–10 in the fourth period to finish on top by 36 in the contest.
One thing making the game special for Cooper’s team was not just that it was Senior Night, but that two of his seniors hit a milestone for the program.
“We always try to make senior night about the seniors and these seniors are a special group,” he said. “Ethan Harris and Payton Vanderkooi have been four-year varsity players and are now part of more wins than any other group with 53.”
The game started with Mount Gilead getting back-to-back three-pointers from Pomeroy and Vanderkooi to take a quick six-point lead. Another three-pointer by Vanderkooi, a three-ball from Godfrey and a free throw and basket by Xavier Harris staked the team to a 15–5 advantage.
However, the Scots finished the opening period with a bucket by Shawn Beltz and opened the second quarter with a flurry.
Curtis Belcher hit a shot and then Minyo followed with two straight buckets to bring the Scots within a two-point margin.
Mount Gilead would then go on their run, which changed the complexion of the contest.
After the game had ended, Hoyng noted that a big key for both teams simply was confidence.
“We have improved and we are better than we were at the beginning of the year, but we’re still very fragile and it doesn’t take much for us to lose confidence,” he said. “They (MG) had the confidence and played a great game.”
Minyo led the Scots with nine points. Mount Gilead got 14 from Xavier Harris, 13 from Vanderkooi, 10 by Chatfield and nine from both Godfrey and Ethan Harris.
Cooper noted that since Pleasant clinched the Blue Division title over his team, his players are gearing up for what they hope to be a strong postseason run.
“The guys were really focused tonight to get another win for tournament seeding,” he said. “Our guys were disappointed they didn’t win the league and want to do something special.”