By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
The Rams start the second half of their South Seven Conference schedule, facing the lone team they defeated in the opening half.
Mt. Vernon travels to Althoff on Friday night. The Rams enter the matchup with a 12-7 record overall. The Rams have struggled in conference play with a 1-4 record. The lone victory came against Althoff at Changnon Gymnasium in early January.
“We played extremely well at our place and still barely won down the stretch,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “We've got to guard a lot better than what we did at our place.”
Mt. Vernon won the first matchup 69-62 and hit 10 of 12 at the free throw line to seal the victory. Braden Fitzjerrells, who is doubtful for the game with a sprained wrist, led the Rams with 24 points.
Jordan Goodwin of Althoff led all scorers with 25 points.
“They've got a lot of weapons,” Gamber said. “The Goodwin kid had a huge night against us here. Goodwin could have a bad night and (Brendan) Gooch and (Kevin) Renner and (Keenen) Young they're all capable of having a big night on any given night.”
Dylan Reeves is expected to slide into the starting lineup, if Fitzjerrells misses the game.
Gamber said the Rams will focus on playing a slower tempo. He added the pace in losses at the Salem Invitational Tournament to Edwardsville and Effingham was too fast.
“I know fans don't like to hear that. I know that our players don't like to hear that,” Gamber said. “But the reality is when we try to run up and down the floor with the teams in our conference, we're not successful.”
Gamber added the key for the Rams is to recognize when a transition opportunity is available, but wants to see more patience in the half-court system.
“We're playing way, way, way too fast in the half court, way too fast,” Gamber said. “That Effingham game if there would have been a 10-second shot clock we never would have had a violation.”
Friday's matchup starts with the junior varsity at 6:15 p.m.