By Kayla Niehoff Rushville Republican
---- — FORTVILLE - The Rushville Lady Lions wanted nothing more than to get their revenge after last season’s semi-state loss to the Mt. Vernon Lady Marauders, and they succeeded with a statement. The Lady Lions defeated Mt. Vernon 65-43 on the Lady Marauders’ home floor.
“I thought we played a very solid game for 32 minutes. We executed offensively and got the ball to the basket and really crashed the offensive boards,” Coach Melissa Marlow said. “The girls did a great job of executing the defensive game plan. We got great contribution off the bench. It was a total team effort.”
Just under a minute into the game Rushville’s Keragan Niehoff scored the first basket to give the Lady Lions a lead from the start. Niehoff then hit a free throw, but Mt. Vernon’s Shaely Duff quickly responded with their first basket to cut the game to 3-2 with 5:25 left in the first.
Rushville’s Kelsi Ash then responded with a bucket to increase the Lady Lion lead to 5-2. From that point, Rushville’s Makayla Herbert hit a put back bunny, and the Lady Lions outscored the Lady Marauders 8-4 to give Rushville a 13-6 lead going into the second quarter.
Rushville’s Sarah Cook started the second quarter with a deep three to extend the Lady Lion lead to 10. Mt. Vernon’s Sydney Shelton responded with a matching three the next trip down the court. Rushville’s Kelsey Ash then hit 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Lions got a defensive stop and Rushville’s Mackenzie Campbell dished to Cook for a two point basket to gain another double digit lead for the Lady Lions 20-9. Mt. Vernon’s Sydney Shelton then responded with another deep three. The Lady Lions closed the quarter with a 15-5 run, taking a 35-17 lead going into the half.
Rushville’s Campbell started the third quarter with two made free throws. With nearly two minutes passing, Mt. Vernon’s Ariana Sandefur made a two point basket. Niehoff then scored a put back bucket to extend the Lady Lions’ lead to 20. Mt. Vernon then scored the next five points to reduce the Lady Lions’ lead to 15.
The final three minutes in the third quarter were back and forth with Rushville buckets from Campbell, Casey Yager, Ash and Cook. Mt. Vernon’s Shelton ended the final three minutes with seven points. The Lady Lions kept their momentum and went into the final quarter with a 51-30 lead over the Class 3A defending state champs.
Again, Rushville’s Campbell started the fourth and final quarter being fouled on a drive to the hoop, and made two of two from the charity stripe. The next scoring play involved a nearly full court pass from Rushville’s Campbell to freshman point guard Kaitlyn Howe for a lay-up.
With a 25-point lead in the final quarter, it looked as if the Lady Lions would run away with a victory. But, the Lady Marauders were not ready to give up. Mt. Vernon’s Cassie York came in as a spark and hit two back-to-back 3-pointers to reduce the Lady Lions’ lead. Mt. Vernon’s Shelton also reduced the lead with a bucket.
Rushville’s Cook responded with a three-point play, which gave Rushville the momentum back. Rushville forwards Niehoff and Ash also had back-to-back buckets to seal a comfortable lead. With 1:27 remaining, Rushville entered substitutes for the starting five to seal the statement-making 65-43 victory over the 3A defending state champs.
Mt Vernon’s Shelton led all scorers with 27. Cook led Rushville scorers with 16. Niehoff and Ash both had 14.
The junior varsity Lady Lions also ended with a big win over Mt. Vernon, 41-16. Ellie Sammons and Mackenzie Woolsten lead the team with eight points each. Brooke Niehoff had six and both Brooke Ash and Taylor Coors had five. Kayla Fogg had four points, and Lilly Cramer had three. Brooklyn Herbert rounded out Rushville’s scoring with two points.