Boys’ Basketball: Curtain Closes on Panthers as Furious Rally Falls Short

By: Nathan Bloechl — 

Mount Vernon — Trailing by as much as 17, the Mount Pleasant boys’ basketball team rallied to within two but it was Mount Vernon who iced the game at the free throw line to hold off Eric Rawson’s group one last time in a 59-55 Class 3A, Substate 5 semifinal last night at Mount Vernon High School.

Collin Swantz, who airballed his first foul shot of the night, calmly drilled four straight free throws with under 0:30 to play in the game to put the game on ice for the Mustangs, who move on to face No. 10 Davenport Assumption in the substate finals, Monday night.

“It’s been quite a ride with this group” head coach Eric Rawson said post-game.

I wasn’t ready to have that conversation. I thought we were deserving to play on Monday. And that’s one thing with this group and the seniors that we have, as a first-year head coach and all the crazy and the ups and downs it’s certainly a building block for our staff and young kids.” 

Mount Vernon saw star guard Keaton Kutcher, a South Dakota recruit, roll for 21 points in the first half seemingly getting off any shot he wanted at any time. Kutcher went off for 15 points in the second quarter, which sparked a 30-14 run in the frame for the Mustangs.

In the second half, however, Mount Pleasant head coach Eric Rawson made a tactical adjustment putting his star forward Dewon Trent on Kutcher.

Kutcher was held to just two points after recess on 1-of-7 shooting as the Panthers tightened the screws defensively, which aided their spirited comeback.

While he was hounding Kutcher on the other end, Trent was doing what he did all season for the Panthers on the offensive side of the floor.

The 6-foot-3 inch junior finished with 15 points and six rebounds to lead Mount Pleasant.

Dewon Trent, love that guy. He locked [Kutcher] down. He did a fantastic job defensively on him. To hold [Mount Vernon] to 15 points in the second that in itself, with the energy and the heart and soul and passion they played with in the second half, it outweighs a “W” any day” a choked up Rawson said.

Trent had a chance to tie the game at 55 but was waylaid on a drive without a whistle.

That’s when Swantz canned his foul shots and put the game on ice.

Chase Williamson added 15 points for the Panthers while sophomore Owen Vansickel chipped in with 14 points.

The loss closes the Panthers season at 13-11.

Mount Vernon improved to 17-5.