Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT -- The Mt. Pleasant boys basketball team’s slide moved to five games on Friday with a 41-26 loss to Fort Madison.
The Panthers played stellar defense in the matchup, holding the Southeast Conference leaders to their lowest point total of the season; however, Mt. Pleasant couldn’t find a solution on the offensive end.
Mt. Pleasant’s second leading scorer, Payton Hagans (averaging 11.8 points per game) was limited in the contest while dealing with an injury. Hagans only got one shot attempt on limited minutes.
“Payton’s playing with an injury right now,” Mt. Pleasant head coach Eric Rawson said. “Going into it, we weren’t sure if he was going to play. He didn’t practice this week, it was a game time decision. He was really hobbling around out there and that kind of deflated us a little bit from the get go, but that’s not his fault.”
Fort Madison came out early, looking like they were going to pull away, grabbing a quick 7-0 lead before the Panthers’ Owen Vansickel picked up six of his game-high 14 points from back-to-back threes.
“I thought Owen Vansickel stepped up for us,” Rawson said. “He kept us in it, especially in the first half.”
Mt. Pleasant would go on to score just two more points in the quarter, but the Panther defense was able to hold strong, limiting the Bloodhounds to a three-point lead, 11-8, going into the second.
In the second quarter, it was the same story as the first. The Panthers were limited to just six points, but the defense prevailed and they won the quarter while holding Fort Madison to only five points. Heading into the break, Mt. Pleasant still trailed 16-14.
“We felt going in defensively we had a good game plan and I though we kept them off the glass,” Rawson said. “I thought we did a really nice job defensively in the first half and in the second, but we just couldn’t score.”
The offensive struggles continued into the second half, as the Panthers were held to 12 points. Vansickel scored five of the Panthers’ 12 second half points.
Dewon Trent, who leads the Panthers in scoring with a 16.4 average, struggled, scoring just four points, three of which came in the second.
Despite the Panthers’ struggles, Fort Madison only held a seven point lead, 27-20, after winning the third 11-6.
In the fourth, the Bloodhounds ensured their victory with their best scoring output of the night, 14 points, as Mt. Pleasant accumulated just six points for the third time.
“Right now, it’s more about winning and losing,” Rawson said. “We’ve got to go out and be able to have fun.”
The Panthers hit on 13 of 37 attempts for a 35% shot percentage. Turnovers plagued the Panthers as they tallied 16.
Accompanying Vansickel and Trent in scoring was Reece Kempker with three. Dylon Hagans and Carter Amos both finished with two. Chris Ewoldt chipped in one.
With the loss, the Panthers fall to 2-7 on the season. They will return to action on Monday, Jan. 10 on the road against Albia.