By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Lady Rams combined outside shooting with a solid post presence in a 53-32 rout of Mattoon on Saturday afternoon.
Hannah Owens led the Lady Rams with 16 points. Mattoon opened the game in a 2-3 zone, but after the Lady Rams hit several jumpers in the opening quarter switched to man.
“Zone can look pretty good if you can’t make shots, but today especially Kelby Kujawa I thought really hurt their zone a lot and Palmer too,” Mt. Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon said. “It really forced them at one point to just abandon it and go to man.”
In the first quarter, Kelby Kujawa found a weakness in Mattoon’s defense along the baseline and hit a pair of jumpers. Claire Ryan added a 3-pointer, and Mt. Vernon took a 16-12 lead.
“The key was breaking the zone, and that wasn’t going to get done until somebody made some shots,” Lonnon said.
Owens led the offensive charge in the second quarter after Mattoon switched from zone to man-to-man. The sophomore post player scored eight of her points in the quarter and helped Mt. Vernon build a double-digit advantage.
“We never would have gotten Owens going had the other kids not made the shots to break the zone to begin with,” Lonnon said. “Again, it’s a team sport, and if you look at it really close and you analyze what happened today the guards made shots which caused the defense to change which caused Owens to get going.”
The Lady Rams continued to feed the ball into Owens after halftime and continued to knock down long-range shots around her. Ryan and Palmer both connected on 3-pointers in the third. The duo finished with 11 points each. Behind the consistent shooting, Mt. Vernon pushed its lead to 19 points. Palmer finished the quarter with a layup that made the score 46-25.
The home game brought an end to a long road swing for the Lady Rams. The road trip lasted two weeks and consisted of two visits to Carbondale along with games at Highland and Althoff. Mt. Vernon’s only defeat came in the final of the Carbondale tournament.
“The road is long and winding,” Lonnon said. “When I walked in here today I had forgotten what it was like to play here. We’ve been all across the countryside in all different directions in bad weather and good.”
Mt. Vernon is 18-5 this season and travels to Centralia on Tuesday.