By Dave Tomczak
Turnovers and struggles at the foul line kept the score low, but the host Sailors did enough to earn a 47-39 victory.
The two teams combined to make only 27 of 58 shots from the foul line, but ironically that’s where the Sailors found their winning edge, scoring 12 of their 16 fourth quarter points on free throws.
“It’s early and we kind of expected this,” said first-year Mona Shores Coach Justin Johnson, who got his first win with his new team. “We’ve got to find a rhythm. When you’re out of sync, shots just don’t feel right. It’s something we’ll keep building on.”
Mona Shores improved to 1-1 on the young season, while Whitehall fell to 1-2.
The Sailor offense got off to a good start. Mona Shores’ Darrin Mitchell, Drew Southland and Ahmon Dean each hit first quarter 3-pointers, giving the hosts a 12-10 lead at the first buzzer.
The Sailors added 13 more points in the second quarter while holding Whitehall to one field goal, and took a 25-17 lead into halftime.
The Vikings pulled within five points, 31-26, heading into the fourth quarter, but could not seal the deal.
The fourth quarter turned into a free throw contest, with Shores making 12 of 21, while Whitehall was 6-for-12. The Sailors finished with a 16-13 scoring edge in the quarter, led by Benny Payne, who had seven of his nine points in the fourth.
“It’s frustrating to only score in the 30’s,” Vikings coach Nate Aardema said. “We had opportunities, and I thought we executed better in the second half. But then they just fouled us, and why wouldn’t you?”
Whitehall finished the game 12-for-30 from the line, while Mona Shores was 15-for-28.
“Obviously we don’t want to foul that much, but we did do a good job of keeping them from the basket,” Johnson said. “We got the looks and the shots we wanted, and found the open guy, and if we can keep doing that, I think we will be fine down the road.”
Jayden Hopson led the Sailors with 16 points and six rebounds, and Southland finished with eight points.
Dayton Cole had 13 points and nine rebounds to lead the Vikings. Red Watson added 10 points and Alfred McGlothlin finished with seven points and seven rebounds.