By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams didn’t lead for much of Tuesday’s game against Mascoutah, but it was enough for a win.
Mt. Vernon topped the Indians 41-38. The Rams found themselves in a 7-0 hole to start the game and spent the remaining three and a half quarters trying to rally. Eight first-quarter turnovers contributed to the Rams’ early troubles.
“We were lucky, and you can’t count on being lucky if you’re going to be good,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “We’ve got to chalk tonight up as we got a win. We’re going to try to get past this.”
Mascoutah built a double-digit lead in the middle of the second quarter before a significant Rams rally started. Mt. Vernon chipped away from the charity stripe. Jake Pike and QwyMann Cantley hit four straight attempts to make the score 21-14. Pike cut the deficit further with a layup, and Cantley ended the first-half scoring with a free throw to make the score 21-17.
“I really thought, though, that we would catapult that into the second half,” Gamber said. “We made that nice run in the second quarter.
“We just went right back into what got us in trouble to start with.”
The Rams would get as close as a point at 21-20 in the early portion of the third quarter after a Michael Feezer layup. He led Mt. Vernon with nine points. Despite clawing close, Mt. Vernon could never seize the lead.
Mascoutah pushed its advantage 29-24 with a minute left in the third before Flota nailed a 3-pointer to make the score 29-27 going into the fourth.
Freshman Braden Fitzjerrells proved the Rams with an offensive lift in the final period from 3-point range. He hit a pair in the period. His first knotted the game at 32 with 5:38 left. His second kept the Rams within a point at 36-35 with 1:52 on the clock.
“That was huge because we couldn’t score,” Gamber said.
Michael Feezer followed Fitzjerrell’s shot with a layup to give the Rams their first lead of the game. It came with 1:35 left.
Mascoutah’s Marshall Moore responded with a bucket on the other end. Moore led the Indians with 13 points. With 17.8 seconds left the game, Travis Mitchell dashed to the hoop and drew a foul. He hit both free throws, putting Mt. Vernon up 39-38. Moore turned the ball over on the next possession, and Flota hit two ensuing free throws after a foul.
Moore had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but his 3-pointer slammed hard off the glass and fell to the floor.
Mt. Vernon is 4-2 this season, and Mascoutah is 2-3.
“We stole a game that we should have lost,” Gamber said. “We can’t do that anymore.”