Panthers’ defense stifles Fairfield boys
MOUNT PLEASANT — The Mount Pleasant boys’ basketball team had 21 steals to limit Fairfield’s shooting opportunities in the Panthers’ 62-24 win on Friday night.
“We really wanted to push the tempo and focus on defense more than we did (against Cedar Rapids Xavier in the season opener),” Mount Pleasant’s Cameron Frank said.
Frank led Mount Pleasant with eight steals in the Panthers’ home and Southeast Conference opener.
The Mount Pleasant defense aided its offense, as the Panthers scored 18 points on fast break layups.
“We put good pressure on the ball tonight,” Mount Pleasant coach Paul Rundquist said. “We really tried to focus on putting pressure on the ball.”
When Fairfield did get a chance to shoot, the Trojans struggled to find the basket, never scoring more than nine in a quarter.
Despite making only five of 25 shots from beyond the arc, the Panthers finished shooting 41.2 percent from the floor, going 21-for-38 on two-point shots.
It was a slow start for both sides, as Mount Pleasant’s Ryan Hanna put the first points on the board — on a fast break layup after Logan Mulford’s rebound — more than two minutes into the game.
It took the Trojans nearly four minutes to get on the board, and two points from Vince Horras would be all they would score in the first quarter as they struggled against Mount Pleasant pressure.
It would prove to be their struggle all game.
“They (the Mount Pleasant players) were very physical with our guards, and we didn’t handle that well, especially in the first half,” Fairfield coach Tyler Miklo said. “We let them push us around. Then we also missed easy shots — the times when took advantage of their pressure, we missed inside.”
The Trojans scored five points in the second quarter, eight in the third and nine in the fourth, led on the night by Spencer Peterman, who had nine points. Horras contributed four.
Landon Gamrath pulled down seven rebounds, while Darrin Dimmitt and Jake Greiner had six boards each and Matt Carr added five.
Peterman had three steals.
Hanna led the Panthers with 11 points, and Frank also broke into double figures with a 10-point game. Connor Shull contributed nine points, including a three-pointer.
Dalton Conrad and Trey Magnani each sank two shots from deep and finished with six points apiece.
Zach Mulford also finished with six points, and Dustin Amos had seven.
Rebounding was a team effort for the Panthers, as each of the 11 players who saw time on the floor had at least two boards.
Magnani led the team with six rebounds; Frank and Hanna pulled down five each, and Mulford had four boards.
The Panthers are 1-2 on the season after a loss to Pella on Saturday. 62-49. They started the SEC season with a win, as they have the last five years.
“We now have a 41-game winning streak in the conference; we didn’t want to break the streak,” Frank said. “We also focus on not losing at home.”
Both Panther losses this season have come on the road.
“We had a really nice crowd (Friday) night; we always do when we play at home,” Rundquist said.
The last team to beat Mount Pleasant on its home court was Cedar Rapids Prairie, who the Panthers will host on Tuesday.
The Trojans travel to Albia on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to work on pushing ourselves, and being stronger, inside and outside,” Miklo said. “The last two games, we were the bigger team on the floor, but we let them push us around.”