Despite defeating No. 14 White Plains twice this season, including earlier this week, No. 3 Mount Vernon showed no signs of overlooking the Tigers, as the Knights cruised to a 79-50 win in the first round of the Class AA sectional tournament.
“I just think, because it was playoffs, we wanted to go harder than we played them the last two times,” said Devonte Banner, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “You know if you lose, then it’s time to go home, so you play with more intensity.”
The Knights, who defeated White Plains 72-53 on Jan. 14 and 74-61 on Monday, put forth their best effort in the third meeting , according to coach Bob Cimmino.
“I was pleased with our offensive flow today,” Cimmino said. “I think we were considerably more intelligent with the ball than we were in the last meeting.”
Mount Vernon (17-1) will host No. 6 Fox Lane (15-4) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m in the quarterfinals.
Cimmino credited guard Josh Doughty with his team’s offensive success. Doughty, who was honored before the game along with five others as part of senior day, finished with 11 points, 12 assists and five steals.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Cimmino of Doughty sharing the ball. “He has an internal argument with himself often; he’d like to be the one (guard) and the two (guard) at the same time. He’s a very talented young man, and in our instance, when he distributes, we win.”
Playing a clean offensive game will be the key for Mount Vernon going forward, according to Cimmino, who is already confident in his team’s defense.
It was Doughty and fellow senior guard Traquann Scales who scored seven points each as the Knights jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first quarter.
“We knew we had to bring it from the start,” Doughty said.
The Tigers (7-12) outscored Mount Vernon 18-11 in the second, cutting the Knights’ lead to 10. White Plains’ Mike DeMello, who finished with 16 points, led all scorers with eight at half.
With 57 total fouls called (White Plains 31, Mount Vernon 26), both teams had trouble getting into any type of rhythm. It wasn’t until midway into the fourth that Doughty and Banner helped spark a 17-0 run that opened things up.
“Our 1-2-2 press was there today,” Doughty said. “We got a lot of steals and deflections, so that’s how we got a lot of points.”
It wasn’t a perfect effort from the Knights, who struggled at times with the Tigers’ press and shot only 65 percent from the free-throw line. But for Cimmino, the bottom line was the Knights advanced.
“We survived,” Cimmino said. “Everything looks good the day after if you still have life.”