Anderson falls to Mount Vernon in sectional opener

Jan. 30—ANDERSON — The raw emotion spilled out of Anderson senior guard Jacelyn Starks during the closing seconds of her sectional quarterfinal game in Pendleton on Tuesday night. She knelt near the "Joe Buck Court" insignia in front of the Anderson bench as Mount Vernon's Gabby Thomas sealed the Marauders' victory at the free-throw line.

It was the sudden realization this stage of her career was coming to an end.

"The season's over. I didn't make my goal and missed it by about 30 points," Starks said. "I love my freshmen, but I didn't get to give them the win that I wanted."

In a game few predicted Anderson could win — or even make competitive — Starks and the Indians were in position throughout, but DePaul commit Ellery Minch and some timely second-half 3-point shooting were the difference in a 48-42 Marauders' win.

Early energy and a strong defensive game plan had Anderson more than competitive, rather the Indians were in position to advance while snapping a seven-game losing streak to Mount Vernon (11-13).

"We really had a great game plan," Starks said. "Defense was our main goal. We wanted it, but we just didn't get the outcome."

"I thought we were in position to win," Anderson coach Aaron Boyd said. "I thought we used a lot of energy in that first quarter, and as the game wore on, it kind of dropped."

Anderson (9-14) took the 19-17 lead just before halftime on a wing jumper from senior Gabby Douglass. Starks made it a six-point lead with a pair of drives to the basket to open the second half. It was the biggest lead for Anderson and was matched moments later on a 3-point basket from junior Kennedy Brown for a 28-22 advantage.

Starks and her teammates were determined to prove the naysayers wrong, each having written a computer-generated prediction of the outcome — a 10-point Maruaders' victory — on their arm as motivation.

They were determined not to repeat a 34-25 loss to Mount Vernon earlier in the season when Anderson made just nine field goals in 40 attempts.

"You've got to give credit to Mount Vernon and their coaching staff," Boyd said. "Their matchup (zone) is one of the best in the state. Not many people play that defense that well. It did what it's supposed to do. It slowed us down and took shots away from our shooters."

The early energy expended by Anderson may have come back to haunt the underdogs moments later after Cambre'Anna Austin made a free throw for a 29-24 lead.

After Minch — who led all players with 25 points — hit a pair of free throws, Anderson turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, each leading to 3-point baskets by Mount Vernon — one by Easton Wampler and the second from Thomas — to put the Marauders up 32-29 entering the fourth quarter, their first lead since the second quarter.

Minch continued the run with a basket in the lane to open the fourth before Thomas capped it with a 3-point basket, and the Marauders had their biggest lead at 37-29.

"The first thing that goes when you get tired is your mentality, and we started making some mental mistakes there," Boyd said. "I'm saying all this, but I had two freshmen out there."

A pair of free throws each from Douglass and Kennedy Brown pulled Anderson within 41-38, but Wampler followed with a 3-pointer, and the Tribe could not narrow the lead to one possession the rest of the way.

Starks led Anderson with 14 points while Douglass had 10 points and five assists.

Starks has not decided where her career will continue collegiately. She closes out her career having won a Madison County championship as a freshman but came up just short of the 1,000-point milestone individually, coming in at 958.

"I'm happy, and I can't wait to see what the future brings," she said.

The loss stings Boyd as well, particularly when he thinks about the five seniors on the squad.

But the hope that goes with talented underclassmen like junior Brown (eight points, five rebounds) and freshman Ariah Scott (eight points, seven rebounds), brings a hesitant smile to his face.

"I hate it for my seniors. I love that group of girls," Boyd said. "Now we know what we've got to do and start working on next year."

The first round at Sectional 9 continues Wednesday as Hoosier Heritage Conference rivals New Palestine and Greenfield-Central face off at 6 p.m. before the host Arabians take on Muncie Central.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.