By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams will try to bounce back from an opening round loss in the Salem Invitational Tournament this morning.
Mt. Vernon (9-8) faces Mattoon (5-13) after the Green Wave lost 72-38 to Edwardsville in an opening round game.
“If we’re really ready and we take care of the ball and handle pressure, it’s a game that we’re going to have a good chance to win,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “If we’re just one bit off our game if we’re not ready to go handle their pressure, it could be a long, long day.”
Mt. Vernon’s defense will focus on containing a pair of guards for the Green Wave. Both Jared Pilson and Grant Speer have the potential to hurt the Rams. A season ago the Green Wave upset Mt. Vernon in the opening round of the tournament in triple overtime. Pilson and Speer combined for 36 points in the game.
“Our kids have to look at last year and getting beat in the first round by Mattoon when they only had a few wins in that game and see that we’re going to have to be ready,” Gamber said.
If the Rams beat Mattoon, they would face the winner of the Marion-Salem matchup for the consolation title. Mt. Vernon has faced both teams multiple times already this season. The Rams lost twice against Marion and has beaten Salem two times.
“It’s important to get a win just in general,” Gamber said. “They’re not coming easy this year by any stretch. But at the same time we’re above .500. It’s important to stay above that threshold and play well.”
Gamber said today is a key day for the Rams and seeding for the upcoming regional. Carbondale, Marion, Massac County and the Rams are all vying for the top seed.
“I think one through four is absolutely up for grabs right now,” Gamber said. “I don’t know who you would say would be a clear No. 1.
Today’s game starts at 11:30 a.m.