By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Cahokia entered Changnon Gymnasium unbeaten.
The Comanches left with a 58-54 overtime loss to the Rams on Friday night.
“As a whole, I think from start to finish I thought we did a great job keeping them off the glass,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “They’re going to get offensive rebounds. I thought we limited those, and I thought we did a pretty decent job of taking care of the ball.”
The Rams hit several key 3-pointers throughout the game. With Mt. Vernon struggling and down double digits in the third quarter Trevor Flota shot the Rams back into contention. The senior hit a pair of deep 3-pointers in front of the Rams bench to slice Cahokia’s lead to 34-29. Flota finished with 17 points, and Jake Pike led the Rams with 19.
Then with the Rams down 39-35 midway through the final quarter, Shakari Hawkins hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to a point. Pike helped push the game into overtime when he nailed a triple to tie the game with eight seconds left.
“Trevor hit a ton of huge shots,” Gamber said. “Shakari hit an unbelievable three from the corner. Then Jake hit another huge three from the corner. We miss any of those, and we lose tonight.”
Cahokia’s Keenan Minor opened overtime with a travel. The Rams, behind a Hawkins driving layup, took the lead. They never trailed in overtime but had to hold off a talented Comanches team that tied the game twice.
Darius Austin tied the game at 46-46 with 2:20 seconds left on a layup seconds after Flota missed a short shot on the other end. Austin consistently controlled the paint area and ended the game at the top scorer with 21 points.
Jake Pike put the Rams back on top when he muscled up a shot and converted a three-point play. Braden Fitzjerrells put the Rams up 51-46 after a pair of free throws with 1:36 left. Cahokia clawed away at the Rams lead and tied the game again at 54 after Austin converted a three-point play with 44 seconds left.
The Rams allowed the seconds to tick off the clock, and Cahokia fouled Flota while trying to force a turnover. The senior stepped to the foul line and hit both shots. Cahokia rushed the ball up the court, and Minor tried to knock in a baseline jumper that rimmed out. Cahokia managed to stop the clock with 3.5 seconds left and send Fitzjerrells to the line with a foul. The freshman sealed the game with a pair of free throws.
“To win in this atmosphere with how good they are, that’s nice for us,” Gamber said.
Keenan Minor finished the game five of 16 from the field with 18 points for Cahokia.
The Rams and Comanches were tied at halftime, but Cahokia used a huge run to open the third quarter. Cahokia scored the opening 11 points to take a 34-23 edge.
Mt. Vernon is 5-3 overall this season and 2-1 in the South Seven Conference. The defeat drops Cahokia to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.