By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
The Mt. Pleasant boys were in postseason form on Monday night for their substate quarterfinal game against West Liberty. The Panthers took a while to get rolling but eventually blew out the visiting Comets 75-25 to move one game closer to a state tournament berth.
West Liberty?s zone defense gave Mt. Pleasant a little sweat in the first quarter. The Comets were able to create a few turnovers and hang with Mt. Pleasant in the opening minutes. A seven-point quarter from Jordan Magnani helped the Panthers grab the lead though, and MPCHS held a 15-8 advantage after eight minutes.
The Panthers started to pull away in the second quarter. West Liberty?s offense was starting to wear out and the Panthers were able to turn a handful of Comet turnovers into easy points on the other end. Brady Sartorius scored seven points in the quarter and Mt. Pleasant led 30-14.
The biggest quarter for Mt. Pleasant came in the third quarter. The Panthers came out of the locker rooms and dominated the period 29-2, ending all hope for West Liberty. After three periods, Mt. Pleasant led 59-16.
The Panther starters were able to rest their legs in the fourth quarter as Mt. Pleasant cleared the bench in the final minutes. The Panthers were still able to take the final period 16-9 and walk out with a 50-point victory.
After the game, Coach Paul Rundquist said he liked the shots Mt. Pleasant was taking, even when they weren?t falling in the first quarter.
?Spacing is really important when you?re playing a zone,? Rundquist said. ?I thought we were spaced OK and had some fantastic looks but they weren?t falling.?
Sartorius ended the game with 19 points to lead the way. Magnani had 18 and both Kieran Kohorst and Jonathan Ita scored nine.
Jaxon Hoyle scored six points in the win. Tucker Johnson had five. Sam Beatty scored three. Rhett Zeglen, Maison Ashton and Jacob Stukerjurgen had two points each.
Ft. Madison had a comeback victory against Iowa City Liberty in the first game of the day, led by 20-points from Kaleb Cresswell and 13 from Logan Rashid.
The Bloodhounds and Panthers played in the substate semifinals last season as well. Ft. Madison gave Mt. Pleasant a scare in that game, leading 32-26 at halftime before the Panthers stormed back to win 62-51.
?First off, they?re very well coached, and I like some of the things they run,? Coach Rundquist said about the Hounds. ?They?re hard to defend and we?ve just got to make sure we?re sound at all five positions. Whatever we see, we?ve just got to run our offense to get good looks and look to score.?
In other news around the substate, Fairfield topped Washington 57-36 and Solon knocked out Keokuk 58-31. The substate semifinals will be on Thursday, February 22, at 7 p.m., with Mt. Pleasant hosting Ft. Madison and Solon hosting Fairfield. The two winners will meet in Muscatine for the substate final on Monday, February 26.