MT. VERNON —
While some holiday revelers mill around the house scavenging for Christmas leftovers, several basketball teams will hit the gym seeking tournament titles.
The tournament action starts early this morning. Woodlawn and Waltonville boys are both in action at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament. Mt. Vernon's girls team is headed west to the Mascoutah tournament. Woodlawn enters the Sesser tournament as the top seed and three-time defending champion. The Cardinals start their title defense at 10:30 a.m. against unseeded Valmeyer. The defending champs enter the tournament with just one loss. The defeat came in the finals of Okawville's tournament after Thanksgiving against the host team. Woodlawn most recently knocked off county rival Waltonville.
Sixteen teams will vie for the Sesser title, and the top eight teams are seeded. Waltonville enters the tournament unseeded and faces No. 5 Goreville in the 1:30 p.m. opening round game. The opening day at Sesser sees action starting at 9 a.m. The final game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
Mt. Vernon's girls basketball team will have a morning tipoff today as well. The Lady Rams play at 11:30 a.m. against Belleville East. The Lady Rams enter the tournament with a 7-2 overall record this season and have yet to lose in South Seven Conference matchups this season. Mt. Vernon entered its winter break with a thrilling last-second victory over Carbondale.
The post-Christmas schedule is a bit different this season for the Mt. Vernon boys basketball team. Typically, the Rams head up to Centralia for its holiday tournament. This season Mt. Vernon decided to join the Effingham/Teutopolis Holiday Tournament. The tourney features six teams in two three-school pools. Teams play a pair of pool games before playing for a final standing.
The two-day tournament starts with a 2 p.m. Friday matchup at Teutopolis against the Wooden Shoes for the Rams. Mt. Vernon will make a short trip over to Effingham where the Rams will face Mattoon at 6 p.m. the same day.
The Rams enter tournament action with a 7-2 mark this season. Both losses came against South Seven Conference teams (Cahokia, Marion). Mt. Vernon opened the season with five straight wins in the Herrin Pyramid Plus Tournament. Most recently the Rams have had some second-half struggles. Against Marion and Waterloo, Mt. Vernon built double-digit leads. The Rams let their advantage slip away in a defeat to Marion at Changnon Gymnasium. A night later Mt. Vernon barely held off Waterloo.
Action in Effingham and Teutopolis continues through Saturday's championship. Mascoutah's tournament finishes on Saturday as well. Games continue through Monday down at Sesser with Sunday as an off day.
Paul Hines is the sports editor for the Register-News.