MP boys stretch SEC win streak to 45
FAIRFIELD — Mt. Pleasant senior Faith Pope slammed down a rim-rattling jam to close out Friday’s 51-42 victory over Southeast Conference rival Fairfield, putting an exclamation point on an otherwise pedestrian offensive performance for the Panthers.
Ryan Hanna scored 14 points and Pope added 12 for the Class 3A ninth-ranked Panthers, who came back from an 11-8 first quarter deficit to stretch their SEC win streak to 45 games. The Panthers were held to 51 points for the second consecutive game, however, shooting 23 of 42 from the field.
“I think we’re making some decisions that are a little bit out of character,” said Paul Rundquist, Mt. Pleasant’s head coach. “We’re in bad position, and maybe some of the pressure that we’re trying to put on defensively is affecting us offensively. We’re just going too fast, and we need to slow down and run our offense.”
Despite some shooting woes, the Panthers played predictably tough on the defensive end, where they created 21 turnovers with their full court pressure. They nabbed 11 steals as a team.
Spencer Peterman, who scored a team-high 12 points, netted Fairfield’s first four points for an early 4-2 advantage, then the home team stayed on top with back-to-back baskets by senior Darrin Dimmitt and Landon Gamrath. A driving layup by Kyle Weirup in the quarter’s final minute gave the Trojans an 11-8 lead headed into the second period.
“The kids decided they were going to come out and attack, and they did it,” said Miklo. “I’ve really thought three out of the last four games we’ve come out very well from the start, and that helps a lot with our confidence.”
In the second quarter, however, Mt. Pleasant took the lead and ran with it. Cameron Frank scored the first basket in the period, followed by eight straight points from Hanna, who racked up 10 of his 14 points in the period. The Panthers had their largest lead of the night at 22-12, but Fairfield closed the gap with six of the half’s final eight points, including two buckets from Gamrath.
“We didn’t let them get away from us, and that was the biggest thing,” said Miklo. “We hung at the 5-7 point range, and that’s a testament to our guys’ hustle. I was happy with our effort in the quarter.”
Fairfield remained close the entire third quarter coming out of the locker room down 24-18. Both teams traded blows until two straight layups by Frank made the score 39-30, though a hook shot by Gamrath in the quarter’s final minute kept Fairfield within seven.
The two teams again played toe-to-toe in the final period, but the visitors stayed in the drivers’ seat. Baskets by Dimmitt and Gamrath whittled the deficit to 45-40 with 3:00 remaining, yet the Panthers finished the game on a 6-2 run. Mt. Pleasant’s Brant Shelman hit two free throws, and Logan Mulford and Pope both made shots in the game’s final minute.
Frank netted 10 points with a team-high eight rebounds and six assists for Mt. Pleasant, and senior Shelman scored six to go with four steals. Mulford finished with five points and a pair of steals, and Pope also nabbed four steals.
Other leading scorers for Fairfield were Gamrath, who had 10 points, and Dimmitt, who scored seven. Junior Joe Hietpas hit two 3s to finish with six points, and he also supplied three assists and had the Trojans’ only block. Freshman Jordan Reid contributed three assists, while Weirup scored three and nabbed a pair of steals. Vince Horras ended up with a team-high 10 rebounds, and Peterman pulled down nine boards.
Fairfield (2-8, 1-3 SEC) will be right back in action today (Monday) against Mid-Prairie.
Mt. Pleasant (8-3, 5-0 SEC) visits Muscatine on Tuesday, and Rundquist looks for his team to continue making strides in the right direction.
“It feels a lot better going into practice tomorrow following the win than it did after Tuesday’s loss to Centerville,” said Rundquist. “It’s another conference victory and a victory on the road, and it’s a learning experience for us. We need to make sure to build from tonight.”
MT. PLEASANT (51)
Ryan Hanna 6 2-3 14, Faith Pope 6 0-0 12, Cameron Frank 5 0-3 10, Brant Shelman 2 2-4 6, Logan Mulford 2 0-0 5, Trey Magnani 1 0-0 2, Dalton Conrad 1 0-0 2.
3-point goals — Mulford.