MT. VERNON —
Scott Gamber's Rams basketball team will run a gauntlet of games starting Monday in the Herrin Pyramid Plus Tournament.
Mt. Vernon opens the season Monday against South Seven Conference foe Marion at 7 p.m. The two teams matched up four times last year with the schools splitting the victories.
“There's more familiarity between the two of us probably than any of the other teams in the tournament,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “But still without seeing them play this year you don't know what changes they've made. Obviously, personnel-wise they've made quite a few changes.”
Mt. Vernon also faces Herrin (5:30 p.m. Tuesday), Salem (7 p.m. Wednesday), Collinsville (7 p.m. Friday) and St. Louis Soldan (7 p.m. Saturday). The tournament sees the Rams playing five games in six days with a break in action Thursday for Thanksgiving Day.
“I'm expecting several different styles,” Gamber said. “Every year you don't know fully what to expect until you get to see them. I think some of the teams will always play pretty close to the same.”
Marion graduated several players but returns a cluster of key players as well. Brant Hill was a consistent starter a season ago and presents a matchup difficulty for the Rams. Hill brings size to court at 6-3 combined with athleticism.
“He's a good player because he's got enough size to where he can hurt you getting to the rim, but he's also a good perimeter shooter,” Gamber said.
Carsen Cash is also back as a 6-5 player in the post along with guard Colton Carter. The Wildcats are also expected to get a boost from Robby Dosier, who played at Carbondale last season. Another transfer is a point guard from Edwardsville.
“Those two players are going to make them a lot better on top of the fact that they bring back their leading scorer in Brant Hill,” Gamber said. “They have a really nice kid in Carsen Cash, who I think is going to have a great senior season.”