MILLTOWN – A quirk in the schedule sent the Mount Pleasant boys basketball team into Saturday’s Blue Hen Conference championship game on a 15-day layoff.
The Green Knights were rusty, and Glasgow took full advantage. But top-ranked Mount Pleasant gradually dug its way out of the hole, then held the No. 9 Dragons scoreless over the final 3:40 to edge away to a 54-48 victory.
“We had a long layoff, and it kind of showed,” Green Knights coach Lisa Sullivan said. “I think they forgot game intensity. We have intensity at practice, but practice speed and game speed are two different things.”
Glasgow (13-8) won a three-way tiebreaker over St. Georges and Hodgson for the Flight B berth in this game, and the Dragons were ready. Lameen Carter dropped a 3-pointer, Darrien Fisher-Logan scored on an offensive rebound, Devin McDowell powered up for a three-point play and Carter splashed another 3 for an 11-0 lead that sent Sullivan scrambling for a timeout with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
“They beat us by 22 the last time we played them,” Dragons coach Jeremy Jeanne said of a 72-50 loss on Dec. 20. “We’re a much better team now.”
Glasgow led 17-8 after a quarter, but the Green Knights started to creep closer. Point guard Fah’Mir Ali hit two free throws and two layups to pull Mount Pleasant within 21-18.
The Dragons led 27-22 at the half. But then KVonn Cramer, the Green Knights’ 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, emerged from hibernation.
Cramer had only four points at the half. He scored Mount Pleasant’s first eight points of the second half – all within 5 feet of the basket – to give the Green Knights their first lead at 30-29 with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
“It was a wakeup call,” Cramer said. “They couldn’t control me in the post. When I get the ball in the post, it’s over. My coach told me I had to be more aggressive, so I had to wake up in the second half.”
There were nine lead changes through the rest of the quarter. The Dragons led 45-41 with 7:39 to play, only to see Ny’Jere Hodges drill back-to-back 3-pointers from the left wing to push Mount Pleasant up 47-45.
“I was just feeling it,” Hodges said. “We run this drill every day in practice where we shoot threes. I was feeling it, the team was hitting me and it all came together. I’m an animal, that’s all.”
Fisher-Logan’s short jumper pulled the Dragons within 49-48 with 3:40 to play. But Glasgow missed its final eight shots from the field, and Ali drove for a layup and made 3 of 4 free throws to provide Mount Pleasant’s winning margin.
“The second half, they got the ball inside to Cramer, they were able to score in transition,” Jeanne said. “That’s why they won the game.”
Hodges scored 19, Cramer added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Ali scored 13 for Flight A champion Mount Pleasant (18-3), which will be the top seed when the DIAA Boys Basketball Tournament begins next week. Glasgow got 11 points from McDowell and 10 from Carter.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.