By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
Jeff Lonnon knew his team would have a bit of a winter break.
He didn't expect it to be quite this long.
Mt. Vernon's girls basketball team expected to take the court Tuesday in what would be a busy week. After the Tuesday game, Mt. Vernon would play Thursday and again Saturday. A pair of cancelations has diminished the Lady Rams workload.
Saturday's home game against Triad will mark the first game for the Lady Rams since a Dec. 27 loss to Freeburg in the Mascoutah tournament.
It's a drought of 14 days.
“We're chomping at the bit to play, and we thought we'd get to play two this week, and here we lost both of them now,” Lonnon said. “(It's) on to Saturday with Triad and we've just got our fingers crossed it will be good enough to play then weather-wise.”
The layoff is similar to the start of the season when players practice for about two weeks before their opening game. The long midseason break gives the year a disrupted feel to it now.
“Now it almost feels like we have to just crank it up again and come out and see where we're at,” Lonnon said.
Mt. Vernon rolled into the Mascoutah tournament with a 6-2 overall record and 4-0 South Seven Conference mark. The Lady Rams lost their opening round game to Belleville East before being eliminated by Freeburg the next morning.
“It's not been very fun,” Lonnon said. “We entered the Mascoutah tournament on a pretty good run there momentum-wise, and then we suffered two losses in a row. And that really kind of brought us back to earth. We haven't got a chance to play again to get back into rhythm.”
Lonnon said he has concerns for his team as they end the lengthy layoff and enter Saturday's contest against Triad. The primary objectives for the Lady Rams are defensive intensity and shooting.
The Lady Rams coach said he would like to reschedule both the Effingham St. Anthony and Centralia Christ Our Rock games. But he won't do it at the expense of fatiguing his team for their conference matchups.
“We play about seven kids total and five of those kids play very heavy minutes,” Lonnon said. “If you get into a situation where you're asking them to play three or four games in a five-day period span, especially if a couple of those games are conference games, you need to be very careful about that. We're very protective of our chance to win our conference again.”
Saturday's matchup with Triad starts with the junior varsity game at 1 p.m.