With Mount Vernon’s top scoring threats struggling and 7-foot Chantilly junior John Manning swatting away ill-fated attempts in the paint, senior Deontre’ Ferguson tried to shoot the Majors back into Saturday’s Northern Region semifinal from long range.
Ferguson drained five 3-pointers, including four in the first half, en route to a season-high 24 points. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Majors fell to Chantilly 69-57 at Robinson Secondary School, ending their season in the regional semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Ferguson’s fifth 3-pointer brought Mount Vernon to within seven at 62-55 with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. But Chantilly knocked down seven of its final eight free-throw attempts and put the game away.
Ferguson was the game’s high scorer and kept the Majors from getting blown out early while the "big three" of Skylar Jones, Robert Smith and Jesse Konadu struggled to find their rhythm. Mount Vernon went without a field goal for the first 6 minutes, 29 seconds of the game — until Ferguson came off the bench and made a 3-pointer. His second triple stopped a 7-0 Chantilly run to open the second quarter, and his third and fourth were part of a 9-0 Majors run.
"[Ferguson] did what we ask him to do on this team," Mount Vernon coach Alfonso Smith said. "He’s one of the better shooters that’s come through Mount Vernon since I’ve been there. He showed that that was actually the case tonight. … We really were in an offensive funk. Some of the guys that really get us kick started offensively were struggling a little bit early. Deontre’ came in and really gave us a big spark off the bench."
Ferguson joined the Majors during the second semester after becoming academically eligible. His first game was Feb. 4 against Stuart.
Ferguson scored 13 of Mount Vernon’s 16 points in the second quarter.
"From the beginning [my teammates] were looking for me," Ferguson said. "After the first [3-pointer], I just got hot and they kept giving me the ball."
Jones, Smith and Konadu carried Mount Vernon on the offensive end for most of the season. On this night, Jones and Konadu had their shots blocked or altered numerous times by Manning, and Smith also struggled to get into a rhythm. Konadu finished with 13 points, Jones had seven and Smith added six.
"[Manning] had a tremendous impact," Jones said, "on how we attacked the basket."
Kethan Savage scored 17 points for Chantilly. Adam Fridy scored 16 and Manning added 11.
In the second half, the Majors got within five when Jones scored the first basket of the third quarter and six when Sean Stewart knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Chantilly’s lead to 37-31 with 2:28 remaining, but couldn’t get over the hump. Alfonso Smith said one of the biggest differences between Saturday’s contest and when Mount Vernon defeated Chantilly 55-52 on Jan. 9 is the Chargers on Saturday had an answer for every Majors run.
While the season ended in disappointment for Mount Vernon, the team’s seniors — Smith, Stewart, Stann Hazelwood, Jones, Dylan Bischoff — leave the program having helped turn it into one of the more successful in the Northern Region. The Majors won back-to-back National District championships while losing only one district game (this season against district newcomer Hayfield).
"We really felt confident coming in that we’d be able to get over this hump," Alfonso Smith said of getting past the regional semifinals. "It’s an empty feeling, a disappointing feeling. … The senior class has been an excellent class. With the run that T.C. [Williams] put together [winning 80 consecutive Patriot District games before forfeits]; I think that kind of gets overlooked."