By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
The Panthers and Bulldogs scratched and clawed like cats and dogs through the first half of Monday night?s non-conference game, but the Mt. Pleasant boys put the paws on Ottumwa in the second half. MPCHS ran away with the game in the third quarter and pulled out a 72-48 win on senior night.
The Bulldogs were able to match Mt. Pleasant?s quick pace in the first quarter. The Panthers led 20-19 after the first period, thanks in part to eight points from Brady Sartorius.
Mt. Pleasant was able to edge away from Ottumwa in the second quarter but the Bulldogs continued to keep it close. Kieran Kohorst had eight points in the second period and the Panthers led 36-28 at the half.
Ottumwa hit a shot to start the third period but Mt. Pleasant responded with a 25-8 run. The Panthers knocked down shot after shot in the third quarter, led by a 14-point performance from Sartorius, and Mt. Pleasant held a commanding 61-38 lead after three quarters.
The Panthers cruised in the fourth quarter and were able to take the starters out late in the period. Mt. Pleasant outscored Ottumwa 11-10 in the final quarter to win the game by 24.
After the game, Coach Paul Rundquist said the Panthers focused on guarding the drive better in the second half, which contributed to the pull away.
?We needed to do a better job defending the dribble drive,? Rundquist said. ?They had a couple of guys taking us to the basket relatively easy, and that was going to be our focal point in the second half, and continuing to board hard and continue our tempo offensively. I think in the second half, they definitely did that.?
Sartorius scored 28 points to lead the way. Kohorst ended the day with 15 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot. Jordan Magnani had 12 points and four assists.
Jonathan Ita scored seven points in the win. Maison Ashton finished with four points and four steals. Colin Mulford and Will Copeland scored two points apiece and both Tucker Johnson and Riley McQuiggin scored one.
It was the last regular season game for Mt. Pleasant?s senior core, which has led the Panthers to three straight SEC titles and a state tournament qualification. Coach Rundquist offered his thoughts on why the Class of 2018 has been so successful.
?I?ve known these kids ever since they were very little, since I moved to town,? Rundquist says. ?Their work ethic is second to none, I mean we?re going to go watch film on Pella right now. They?re impressive because they focus really well and it pays off for them. It?s good to see hard work pay off.?