On Wednesday afternoon, Mount Vernon received big plays from its bench, a star effort from its big man, key 3-pointers from its star shooter, and a raucous home crowd, and the Knights still had to fight and claw their way to victory.
That’s what you get in a rivalry game though.
Mt. Vernon faced off with its number one rival New Rochelle on Wednesday at Ben Gordon Alumni Gym and the two storied programs battled. Mount Vernon could never fully run away with the game, and even got a scare in the fourth quarter, but the Knights blitzed New Rochelle late to come away with a 79-64 victory.
“It was a horrible to look at the schedule and see New Rochelle right after the Christmas break,” Mount Vernon’s hall of fame coach Bob Cimmino said. “But the crowd was great and really into the game and you don’t need speeches to get players up for a game like this. They’re always ready for New Rochelle.”
From the opening tip, the flow of the game stayed the same. Mount Vernon built its 8-to-10- point lead, watched New Rochelle battle back, but not close enough as the Knights always found a way to stretch the lead right back to 10.
With New Rochelle nipping at its heels in the second quarter, Jason Douglas-Stanley started opening up his perimeter game with a variety of jumpers from all over the court. The lead ballooned to 13 in the middle of the second, but Jarrett Haines added a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to bring the Huguenots back into it.
Douglas-Stanley drained an open 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 38-27, and then sunk a deep contested trey from the elbow to give Mount Vernon a 41-30 lead at the half. He scored 14 points in the second quarter. He led Mount Vernon with 22 points on the day.
“I’m proud of my team. We used everything we worked on in practice and brought it to the game today,” Douglas-Stanley said. “My teammates get me those shots. Without them, I can’t make them.”
Haines finished the half with 19 points for New Rochelle, single-handedly keeping the Huguenots in the game in the first half. He finished with a game-high 31 points and added 11 rebounds and four assists.
Mount Vernon maintained its comfortable lead through the third quarter despite New Rochelle’s continued good play. The Knights quietly increased the lead all the way up to 17 thanks to Greg Calixte’s efforts inside. The 6-foot-8 senior finished the game with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. His third quarter was huge as Mount Vernon pounded it to him inside possession after possession.
“He is getting better and better and that’s our game plan. In the locker room, at half time, during timeouts our game plan is to get it inside,” Cimmino said. “We have the advantage. When they get a 6-foot-8 player, we’ll have to think of something else, but until then it doesn’t take the greatest coach to figure that out.”
New Rochelle didn’t back down. The Huguenots scored five in a row to close the third quarter and put the Knights within striking distance again. Tyeshon Martin and Jaylin McGhee had a hand in getting New Ro back in it. McGhee finished with 11 points. Martin also had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Huguenots started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run and cut Mount Vernon’s lead all the way down to six at 63-57. Jake Armiento knocked down a pair of three-pointers for New Rochelle and Jarrett Haines sunk a pair of free throws and the lead was just five.
The Huguenots had a pair of chances to cut it down to two, but two 3-point attempts hit iron with two minutes left. Mount Vernon’s Eric Monroe, who hadn’t scored a point off the bench all game, immediately made his presence felt.
The senior guard drained a 3-pointer of his own, then added a steal, an assist, a layup, and a three-point play to ice it. In the span of a minute, he had eight points and an assist in a 10-0 run for Mount Vernon.
“He’s a senior and he’s expected to make plays and he did,” Cimmino said. “He was upset with the flow of the game earlier and I sat him for a while and he responded.”
“We have a big senior class with a lot of leadership,” Calixte said. “There’s power in the starting five and off the bench. Everyone can get it done.”
Demetre Roberts had eight points and six assists for Mt. Vernon. Noah Morgan added 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks despite foul trouble.