The Mount Vernon girls basketball team took to the road Tuesday, Nov. 23 for a cross divisional match-up with the Benton Bobcats, a WaMaC West preseason favorite, in the Mustangs’ second game of the 2021-22 season. The Bobcats came out on top 54-29.

The Mustangs, under the direction of new-to-the-area Nate Sanderson, started on shaky ground with the first quarter ending 15-0 in Benton’s favor. Mount Vernon committed six turnovers in the first, and were 0-4 from the field. The Bobcats scored the first two points in the second quarter before the Mustangs sprang to life, ultimately outscoring the home team 17-15 in the second period.

Even so, the Bobcats took a 30-17 advantage into halftime.

Sanderson indicated his team’s defense kept them in the game in the third quarter by holding the Bobcats to merely three points in the opening seven minutes of the second half.

The Mustangs trailed 33-21 with just over a minute to play in the third before Benton drilled two three-pointers to put the game out of reach going into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter found the home team outperforming the visiting Mustangs 16-8 to cement their win.

Despite his team’s slow start, said Sanderson, “this team’s heart was clearly on display”, and spectators will see the team “learning in real time.”

Evidence of his team’s improvement, Sanderson said, was the fact that his team committed only two turnovers in the second half, compared to their six in the first.

Seniors Kenzie Rentschler and Liz Dougherty led the Mustangs in scoring, each scoring seven points in the loss. Brynley Rasmussen chipped in with 6 points. Dougherty also pulled down seven rebounds.

“This team will play hard no matter what the scoreboard reads,” said Sanderson. “It’s never ideal to have a scoreless quarter, especially to start a game on the road against a ranked opponent. However, we kept battling and clawed our way back into the game.

“There are a lot of other encouraging signs that we are getting better each day. We still have a lot of work in front of us, but we have been pleased with our start to the season as we’ve seen glimpses of the kind of team we want to become,” Sanderson said.

Coming up - Friday the Mustangs will host Center Point-Urbana at 7:15 p.m.

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