Mount Pleasant wins opening round thriller in OT

Glenn FrazerHeadlines, Sports

Mount Pleasant Jaden Scott attempts a shot in OT win over Odessa, photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

The Mount Pleasant Green Knights hang their hat on defense to keep them in close, low-scoring games. Eight times this season they have been involved in games decided by five points or less. In the opening round of the DIAA boys basketball tournament Tuesday night, the ‘Knights were again involved in a close-defensive ball game with Odessa. Neither team led by more than four points as there were a multitude of lead changes in the final quarter. Odessa held a 20-17 advantage at the half, but Mount outscored the Ducks 24-21 in the second half to send the two into overtime. 

In the extra frame, the ‘Knights patiently held the ball to run clock, eventually winning at the foul line as Jayden Lawrence scored 6 of his teams 7 points in “OT” for a dramatic 48-45 victory. Lawrence was named our Frist State Ortho player of the game with 30 points including 8-for-10 at the line. 

Mount Pleasant has a “knack” for holding their opponents below their scoring average. Odessa came into the tournament averaging 62 points per game. We asked Coach Brian Hines about his approach to the game. “We practiced nothing but defense the last two days. Defense has kept us in every game we’ve played and when you look at our season, we hold teams below their average.”

The Green Knights’ defensive effort was on full display in the third quarter as they held the Ducks scoreless for the first seven minutes. The exciting fourth quarter featured several lead changes as both teams came up with “clutch” shots. With 1:09 to go, Jordan Earl calmly drained a corner ‘three” to put the Ducks up 40-39. Following an Odessa free throw by Henry Nysagare, Jaden Lawrence was fouled with :18 left and he made both shots to send the game into overtime. The ‘Knights then leaned on the ball-handling ability of junior Cyril Stewart to “shorten” the game, as they edged Odessa 7-to-4 to get the win and advance to the second round. Thursday night the Green Knights will face top seed St Elizabeth. It will be a return for the Lawrence twins to their former school as Justin and Jayden played for the Vikings before transferring to Mount Pleasant. 

Odessa finished an historic season by qualifying for the school’s first tournament under first-year coach Andre Wilburn. Jordan Earl led the Ducks with 14 points, Henry Nysagare added 13 and Jaylen Bernikow finished with 8 points.

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