MOUNT VERNON - Last winter was something of a blur for the Mount Vernon boys basketball team. For a program known for playing from deep into March, there was no usual beginning, middle and end — and only so much time to improve.
"Now that we have a full season, we have a whole season to get better," junior guard Dylan Colon said. "Last year, we only played 11 games, so there really wasn't much you can do. Now, we're playing good, but we're not playing our best basketball yet. We're going to get better as time goes on."
If true, that's a scary proposition for the competition. The Knights are already 9-0 after beating Long Island's top-ranked public school, Deer Park, on Thursday, then overcoming a determined Fox Lane team 61-52 on Friday.
Mount Vernon trailed the Foxes briefly in the second quarter, but they regrouped and led most of the way. It was Colon's shooting, the defense of guards Justin Robinson and Elijah Morris, and the inside tandem of Manny Barkor and Brandon Sinclair that allowed the Knights to overcome Fox Lane's shotmaking and relentless effort.
On Thursday, Mount Vernon beat Deer Park, which entered the game unbeaten and ranked seventh in the state in Class A, 77-61.
"It was a good two days of good basketball," Colon said. "Both games were exciting. They were defensive games for us. Our offense kind of ebbed and flowed, but it was good."
These Knights returned the bulk of their rotation from last year's Southern Westchester regional titleists, who started the winter 1-3 before finishing on a seven-game winning streak.
They showed that maturity Friday when star forward DeMarley Taylor suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Barkor stepped up, scoring a team-high 16 points and grabbing six rebounds, while Sinclair came off the bench for Taylor and contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds.
"It was just being strong, getting rebounds, helping the team win and do whatever we needed to do to win," said Barkor. "It was a close game. We didn't play our best. We just had to stick together and continue to get better."
Player of the game
Dylan Colon, Mount Vernon. The junior had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. He hit three 3-pointers in and drained a long 2-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer.
By the numbers
Mount Vernon (9-0) — Robinson and Morris anchored the defense, combining for seven steals. They also combined for nine assists.
Fox Lane (6-4) — Justin Allen had 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists and Dylan Watson added 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Charlie Shevick chipped in 10 points.
"We're doing well so far, but there's always room to get better," Barkor said. "We have high expectations for this team. We're just trying to go all out."
Fox Lane will host Port Chester (Wednesday) and travel to Ossining (Friday) as it continues league play next week. Mount Vernon is off until it visits league rival Scarsdale Friday, then is scheduled to host New Rochelle at 1:30 the following afternoon.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Mount Vernon boys basketball beats Fox Lane to stay undefeated