MT. VERNON —
The Rams basketball team will travel to Belleville Althoff later this week without one of its top players.
Braden Fitzjerrells injured his right wrist in Mt. Vernon's Saturday night loss to Effingham at the Salem Invitational Tournament.
The injury was initially declared a broken wrist later that evening. The sophomore spent the last several days with medical professions with the most recent X-ray result on Tuesday yielding an inconclusive result, according to Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber. The next step is an MRI, Gamber said.
Fitzjerrells will miss at least two weeks of action even if the final tests are negative for a fracture, Gamber added. Fitzjerrells is currently wearing a wrap on his immobile wrist.
Doug Gardner and Gilwan Nelson will fill in for Fitzjerrells at point guard. Nelson started the season in the position before suffering a broken nose in practice before Mt. Vernon's home win over Belleville Althoff. Nelson's minutes have declined since the injury with Luke Wilson taking over his starting position each game since the injury.
“In the short term, obviously we're going to need a new point guard,” Gamber said. “I think that's going to be shared by several people.”
Dylan Reeves is expected to move into the starting lineup and join Gardner, Luke Wilson, Shakari Hawkins and Jake Pike.
Fitzjerrells has been a key offensive contributor this season along with Hawkins and Pike. Of Mt. Vernon's 19 games, Fitzjerrells hit double figures in 16. Six times he topped the 20-point plateau.
“He's played pretty much every minute of every game this year,” Gamber said. “You lose the ball handling. You lose the scoring. You lose the defense.”
Gamber said the Rams won't drastically change their approach, but he added the pace his team plays will slow somewhat.
“I think we have to be a little more patient,” Gamber said. “We have to run a little more offense, and I think with Braden being out I think that becomes that much more important.”