Evan Burnell (5) of Monmouth Academy and Matt Chapman (31) of Wiscasett battle for a rebound during the first half in Monmouth on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Academy Mustangs know the wins they will need to reach their goal of a spot in next month’s tournament are and will continue to be tough to come by in the Mountain Valley Conference.
So it was good for the Mustangs and their fans to see a team that could deliver a knockout punch after keeping an opponent on the ropes all game.
Monmouth controlled the flow of the game from the outset, then dominated the fourth quarter to pull away from winless Wiscasset, 52-35, on Friday night.
Dylan Lajoie led all scorers with 16 points for Monmouth (3-7). Connor Davies provided a spark off the bench with 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Zach Reed led Wiscasset (0-11) with nine points and 11 rebounds.
It wasn’t a glamorous ending. The Mustangs led by eight heading into the fourth quarter, then scored 12 of their 16 points in the period from the free-throw line. Lajoe scored the first six points of the quarter, four from the charity stripe plus a jumper, to extend the margin to 42-28.
Monmouth’s full-court pressure and trapping kept the Wolverines from slowing the tempo and pounding the ball inside much to the 6-foot-5 Reed beyond the first quarter.
“We play a high-tempo at practice all of the time, so when we get into a game it’s second nature,” Lajoie said.
“We got into some foul trouble,” Wiscasset coach Seth Farrington said. “That’s no excuse. We’ve got to be more fundamentally sound. We’ve got to move our feet better. Monmouth is so well-coached that they make adjustments and their kids are physical. They’re going to be in the right spots most of the time and you’ve got to be in the right spot to make the shot you want.”
Monmouth led from the start and quickly turned a 17-11 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 23-12 cushion when Zach Wallace found Evan Burnell inside for a hoop.
The Mustangs got another boost in the paint in the first half from Davies’ active play at both ends.
“Connor’s a good scorer. That’s what he does,” Lajoie said. “He’s 6-foot-4 and can handle it like a guard.”
Davies and Burnell (seven points, 10 rebounds) were big men on the boards for the Mustangs.
“We’ve got some active kids,” Monmouth coach Wade Morrill said. “We’ve got some tough kids, physically strong kids who have good leaping ability. Connor did a good job of being steady in the first half. He did a good job tonight of staying active.”
Chris Loyola gave Wiscasset a spark off of its bench, helping whittle the deficit down to 28-22 at halftime with a layup and a couple of free throws.
Ron Drake’s steal and layup and a Reed free throw helped the Wolverines pull within 30-27 early in the third. But they wouldn’t get another field goal over the final 5:44 of the quarter while the Mustangs regained control with a Gabe Martin 3-pointer and Lajoie runner.
Evan Burnell of Monmouth Academy heads to the foul line with encouragement from his teammate Connor Davies during the first half against Wiscasett in Monmouth on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Connor Davies of Monmouth Academy brings the ball up the court against Wiscasett in Monmouth on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Dylan Lajoie of Monmouth Academy lays up a shot over Wiscasett defenders in Monmouth on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Brock Bates of Monmouth Academy pulls down a pass against Wiscasett during the first half in Monmouth on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)