Trojans’ defense big in win

MOUNT UNION – Defensively, the Mount Union boys had things going their way for three out of four quarters Monday, clamping down to allow 26 points combined in the first, second and fourth quarters in their rivalry basketball game against Huntingdon.

But in the third quarter, behind the three-point shooting of Nate Gearhart, the Bearcats challenged, posting 22 points in an effort to take the victory home.

But it wasn’t enough. The Trojans also had their offense going full force in the third, scoring 21 of their own en route to an 18-point victory, 66-48, in the non-league contest.

Leading the way in the Trojans’ victory was Kahlil Fortson, who finished with a double-double – 11 points and 10 rebounds. Others picking up double-digit performances were Klayton Heffner (11), B.J. Loner (12) and Jamal Smith, the scoring leader with 14.

For Huntingdon, Nathan Gearhart finished with a game-high 21 points.

“Gearhart’s a player. We knew that coming in. He caught fire, hitting five shots in the third,” Mount Union coach Joe Komir said. “(We) tried a couple different guys. We put one of our tallest guys on him hoping it would frustrate him a little bit, we stayed in our man defense.

“We then answered. They did well.”

With Mount Union holding a 25-17 lead going into the third quarter, Huntingdon got hot from beyond the three-point line and in the process kept pace with Mount Union’s consistent offensive attack.

Josh Foster hit the first of six triples for the Bearcats in the quarter, breaking free from his defender and taking it from the right side of the three-point line, making it a five-point Huntingdon lead.

On the following possession, Mount Union got an old fashioned three-point opportunity when Smith attacked the rim and was fouled going in for the layup.

Gearhart was relentless, though, maintaining the five-point difference by hitting his first triple. Despite four more treys, the Mount Union offense had an answer for everything Gearhart threw at them, building to a 46-39 lead going into the final stanza.

Gearhart scored 15 of his 21 points in the quarter while Mount Union was led by a 10-point effort by Smith and a five-point effort by Kenny Simmons.

Things continued to go downhill for the Bearcats in the fourth as the Trojans tightened the defense back up, allowing only nine points en route to the 66-48 victory.

Loner had the hot hand for Mount Union in the final stanza, earning all of his eight point effort in the final period. Four of Loner’s points came from the charity stripe.

In the first period, the quarter belonged to the visitors as Huntingdon took a 12-11 advantage. Huntingdon started off slowly, trailing 9-5, but ended the quarter on a 7-2 run. In that run, Lovett hit one-of-his two triples of the quarter.

The Mount Union defense came alive in the second quarter, keeping the Bearcats off balanced and unable to take the close post shot by forcing bad perimeter opportunities as well. On the boards, Mount Union also kept the Bearcats away from easy second-chance opportunities while its offense produced 14 points.

The Trojans lost a heartbreaker in the JV contest, losing in the final seconds 35-34.

With the win, Mount Union improves to 7-3 on the year. The Trojans do battle next with Southern Huntingdon on Wednesday.