MT. VERNON —
Scott Gamber is trying to strike a balanced approach to tonight's regular season finale against rival Centralia in Changnon Gymnasium.
“We want to win. We want to do everything it takes to win Friday night, but if we don't, Tuesday night is what really matters,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “Tuesday night's the only must-win game we have this year.”
The Rams-Orphans matchup is the final regular season game for Mt. Vernon. The postseason begins for 3A teams on Monday night, and Mt. Vernon opens the playoffs Tuesday night against Marion in the Herrin regional.
“We just cannot put so much into Friday to where if things go bad that we are devastated for Tuesday,” Gamber said. “And conversely we can't put so much into Friday where if we win we think it's our season and it's great and then we have a letdown.”
Mt. Vernon enters the matchup with a 15-11 overall record along with a 2-7 South Seven Conference mark. The Orphans are 6-3 in conference action and have lost just four games this season. Cahokia beat Centralia twice. The Orphans also lost to Edwardsville and Belleville Althoff.
Mt. Vernon and Centralia faced off earlier this season with the Orphans claiming a 54-45 home victory. Centralia led by double digits late in the game before the Rams rallied. Mt. Vernon closed the gap to a point with two minutes left before losing.
“Centralia can exploit every single weakness you have, and they can make you look bad if you're not really on top of your game,” Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon is coming off an all-round solid performance, beating Effingham on Tuesday night. Mt. Vernon spread the ball around on offense and showcased its defense late against the Flaming Hearts.
“I felt like we won the right way,” Gamber said. “We won playing the style we need to play in order to be successful. I felt like our guys were extremely unselfish (against Effingham). I thought our ball movement in our motion was a lot better. I took away a lot of positives.”
Tonight's matchup starts with the junior varsity game at 6:15 p.m.