MT. VERNON —
Tonight's matchup with Mascoutah is the start of a critical week for the Rams basketball team.
Mt. Vernon faces a pair of road games. The first test is today at Mascoutah. Friday, Mt. Vernon travels to Cahokia. The Rams haven't played a game since the final night of the Herrin Pyramid Plus Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Friday would have marked the South Seven Conference opener for the Rams against Althoff, but the game was canceled after a massive winter storm left piles of snow in the area.
The Rams players spent most of last week focused on the driving abilities of the Althoff players, according to coach Scott Gamber. The last few days they've had to shift their thinking to focus on containing the Mascoutah perimeter shooters. The Indians are primarily a perimeter-oriented squad with a single post player down low.
“They're similar to us size wise,” Gamber said. “It's a game where playing there we're going to have to play really well. I worry about our guys looking past this game for Cahokia, and if we do that we'll go over there and get beat. It's a game that we need to be able to go get.”
Mascoutah enters the game 1-4 overall. The Indians opened the season with four games at Centralia's Thanksgiving tournament. Most recently, Mascoutah traveled to Salem and beat the Wildcats.
“I think (the record) is a little bit misleading,” Gamber said. “They got beat badly by Centralia, but they played Belleville East very close and their games against Jerseyville and Mahomet were down to the wire.”
Last season, Mt. Vernon beat Mascoutah in Changnon Gymnasium after rallying late. The Indians led throughout the game before the Rams seized control in the final quarter.
“We were really, really lucky to get last year's game,” Gamber said. “They led at the end of the first, second and third quarter.”
Mt. Vernon is 5-0 this season. Tonight's matchup starts at 6:15 p.m. with the junior varsity game.