By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams’ opponent tonight is winless in conference play, but victimized them earlier this season.
Marion and Mt. Vernon matched up in the Pyramid Plus Tournament during the opening week of the season. Marion topped the Rams 46-41. The tournament tilt didn’t count toward the South Seven standings.
“Conference road games are tough to win,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “We’ve got to go get one (tonight). If we want to compete in our league finish in the top half of our league, it’s got to start with a road win (tonight).”
Marion has lost all three of its conference games. The Wildcats dropped close home games to Carbondale and Althoff before traveling to Centralia and having the Orphans hand them a double-digit defeat. Centralia went on a 21-2 run during a portion of the game.
“I think after you get past Cahokia I think the margin is so small between wins and losses that records in conference is not that important,” Gamber said. “Marion is 0-3. Marion had a great chance to beat Althoff. Marion had the lead late against Carbondale. They could easily be 2-1 right now.”
Mt. Vernon enters the game after a trio of home games that translated into three wins. The Rams upset unbeaten Cahokia before going out of conference to beat Waterloo and Cairo.
In the early season matchup against Marion, the Rams struggled to hit shots. Mt. Vernon finished the game 30 percent from the field.
“We have shot the ball much better since then,” Gamber said. “I think we have guys who are good shooters.”
Brant Hill led the Wildcats’ attack and scored 14 points, knocking down three from beyond the arc. Jawan Tucker added 13 points on five of 14 shooting.
Tonight’s matchup starts with the junior varsity game at 6:15 p.m.