By Paul Hines
Mt. Vernon's girls basketball team held off arch rival Centralia 40-36 in Monday's opening round regional game.
“I think it was just a typical Mt. Vernon-Centralia girls game,” Mt. Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon said. “That's about what I expected. I expected it to be four or five points in one direction or the other.”
The game was close throughout. The Lady Rams and Annies faced twice this season already with Mt. Vernon winning both games.
“That third time you play them, they have you scouted so well,” Lonnon said. “And I would like to think we had them scouted pretty well too.”
Courtney Scarbrough led the Lady Rams with 10 points. Hannah Owens added eight points and 12 rebounds. Ieisha Sanders had seven points and seven rebounds.
Centralia jumped out on Mt. Vernon early, claiming a 13-6 edge after the opening period. The Lady Rams closed the gap at the start of the second. Paetyn Hayes came off the bench and canned a 3-pointer to start the period. The bucket sliced the deficit to 13-9. Owens followed with a layup to close the gap to 13-11.
Mt. Vernon continued a solid second quarter and closed with a run. Clare Ryan and Scarbrough nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give Mt. Vernon a lead at 19-16. The Lady Rams took the same three-point advantage into halftime up 21-18.
Centralia stayed close but never seized a lead until late against the Lady Rams. The Annies' Abby Ingenrieth canned a baseline jumper at the end of the third to even the score at 30 going into the final quarter.
In the final quarter, the lead swung back and forth between the two teams four times. The Lady Rams grabbed the advantage for good with an offensive rebound putback from Ryan midway through the final quarter.
The Lady Rams were able to minimize turnovers with eight in the game and just two in the second half. Mt. Vernon also established a comfortable 34-27 rebounding advantage against the Annies.
“We've turned it over too much this year period,” Lonnon said. “That's been a sore spot for us. So to hear we only had two turnovers in the second half, that makes me happy.”
Mt. Vernon is 15-9 this season and faces top seed Carbondale at 6 p.m. tonight. The two teams split their regular season matchups with both teams winning on the opponent's home court.