116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — It's the postseason. It's never going to be easy.
Mount Vernon's boys' basketball team put the SURVIVE part of survive and advance in big all-capital letters Thursday night, hanging on by their proverbial finger nails to top Mount Pleasant, 59-55, in what turned out to be a thriller of a Class 3A substate semifinal.
A funny thing happened on the way to what sure appeared to be a Mount Vernon blowout. The Mustangs put together a 30-point second quarter, hit 73 percent of their shots from the field in the first half and rolled to a 44-27 halftime lead.
But snap your fingers, and everything changed. Mount Vernon (17-5) got hesitant on both offense and defense, Mount Pleasant (13-11) got aggressive on offense and defense, and that's why this one was a two-point game in the final minute.
'Sometimes that's just the way basketball goes,' said Mount Vernon all-state wing Keaton Kutcher. 'They came out at halftime and put some really good defense on us. We just didn't react probably the way we should have. They were the better team there for a little bit. But any way you can escape, it's good to win.'
Mount Pleasant forced Mount Vernon to turn over the basketball 13 times in the second half. Mount Vernon Coach Ed Timm said his team has had 13 turnovers in a full game just once all season.
'We talk to our guys all the time that we are really good when we play downhill,' Timm said. 'When we attack on offense, when we attack on defense, we are really, really good. They did a good job of taking that away, we started thinking, and I knew about three minutes into the third that we were in a lot of trouble. Because we quit going downhill.
'We were expected to win, and you could just see that. That weight got heavier and heavier, and we didn't react to that well. A good lesson for us.'
Kutcher was brilliant in the first half, scoring 23 points, including splashing three 3-pointers and aggressively driving to the hole for layups, short jumpers or fouls. Mount Pleasant threw all kinds of dudes at him defensively in the second half, denied him the ball more and held him to just two points.
'They put fresh guys on me and really denied me the ball more than they did in the first half,' Kutcher said. 'Tried to get in my head a little bit that way. Just gave me some different looks, still stuff I'm used to. They just stepped up defensively.'
Jayden Meeker added 14 points for Mount Vernon before fouling out in the fourth. The guy who really should get plaudits for helping his team escape is point guard Collin Swantz, who hit both ends of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 28.4 and 7.6 seconds remaining, both times inching MV up from a two- to four-point lead.
'The only person in our entire school I would want at the free-throw line instead of Keaton would be Collin,' Timm said. 'There's not one guy in our program who thought he'd miss those. He does that in baseball, he does that in football, he does it in golf. He's a kid when you need someone to step up and give something to you, he's going to step up and give it to you.'
'Like Coach said 'In Swantz we trust,'' Kutcher said.
Mount Pleasant got back into the game with a bunch of free throws. The Panthers ended up going 24 for 30 from the line, including Chase Williamson's 10-for-10 performance.
He and Dewon Trent had a team-high 15 points each. But Mount Vernon moves along to a 3A substate final Tuesday night against 10th-ranked Davenport Assumption (17-6) at a site to be determined.
Mount Vernon 59, Mount Pleasant 55
MOUNT PLEASANT (55): Brevin Wilson 2-4 1-2 5, Dylon Hagans 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Johnson 1-3 3-4 5, Dewon Trent 6-16 3-6 15, Chase Williamson 2-6 10-10 15, Payton Hagans 0-3 1-2 1, Owen Vansickel 3-9 6-6 14. Totals 14-41 24-30 55.
MOUNT VERNON (59): Keaton Kutcher 10-19 2-2 25, Trevor Weber 1-1 0-0 2, Jayden Meeker 5-10 4-4 14, Collin Swantz 1-1 6-7 8, Brady Ketchum 3-4 0-0 8, Aidan Nosek 0-0 0-0 0, Jensen Meeker 1-2 0-0 2, Joseph Rhomberg 0-2 0-0 0, Brady Erickson 0-2 0-0 0. 21-41 12-13 59.
Halftime — Mount Vernon 44, Mount Pleasant 27. 3-point goals — Mount Pleasant 3-11 (Johnson 0-1, Trent 0-1, Williamson 1-3, P. Hagans 0-1, Vansickel 2-5), Mount Vernon 5-14 (Kutcher 3-7, Ja. Meeker 0-1, Ketchum 2-3, Rhomberg 0-2). Rebounds — Mount Pleasant 26 (Trent), Mount Vernon 26 (Ja. Meeker, Kutcher 6). Total fouls — Mount Pleasant 18, Mount Vernon 19. Fouled out — Ja. Meeker. Turnovers — Mount Pleasant 14, Mount Vernon 16.
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