The postgame meeting might have felt just as long as the layoff. No. 7 Mount Vernon pulled out a 53-45 win over ninth-ranked Edison, but the victory was nothing like the Majors had planned, as detailed behind closed doors afterward.
Even so, Mount Vernon beat an undefeated team that had knocked off three ranked opponents in the Lady Crusader Holiday Tournament in late December.
“The team’s effort was probably the worst game we’ve played all season,” said Loftus, who tied senior Taylor Dunham with a team-high 14 points. “People just weren’t mentally focused. When they came out to press, people looked scared. The pressure really got to us. We didn’t have the hunger. We didn’t have the drive to win, as a group.”
That’s what most concerns third-year Coach Courtney Coffer. In recent seasons, Mount Vernon has been a Northern Region challenger. Now the Majors are the favorites, particularly after having knocked off No. 19 Oakton, the defending state champion, in the second game of the season, 68-52.
“My worry is that now that we’re starting to get the respect that we feel that we deserve, our kids are losing their hunger,” said Coffer, whose team was idle over the holiday break because the tournament it planned to play in fell through. “Tonight’s game is nowhere close to the type of team that we are.”
In beating Edison for the fifth time in six outings, the Majors (8-1, 4-0) posted an odd scoring line in the first half: six three-pointers, one two-pointer, one free throw. They led 21-17 at the intermission and then went on a 10-0 run early in the third period.
For Edison (9-1, 3-1), junior guard Caitlyn Riley, senior forward Sheila Sherrill and freshman guard Jada Graves all scored in double figures, and freshman forward Raven Moses had 15 rebounds. Sherrill, who averages a team-high 14 points, was held scoreless in the first half, and she picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter. The Eagles missed 15 of 25 free throws. But with three of the team’s top four scorers being freshmen, they were somewhat encouraged.
Not Mount Vernon.
“If we want to play better,” Dunham said, “we need to start playing like it’s March now.”