MT. VERNON —
Rams basketball players took to the floor of Changnon Gymnasium for the first time this season Monday.
“The first day of practice is always pretty exciting,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “It seems like the last few weeks leading up to it, you're really ready to get started and you can't and you're antsy.”
Mt. Vernon practiced twice on the official opening day of the boys basketball season. Gamber said he had 29 sophomore through senior players try out for the squad this season.
“It was more than what I thought we would have just based on the summer and fall workouts,” Gamber said.
Several players enter the opening day fresh off the end of the football season. Doug Gardner, Dylan Reeves and Braden Fitzjerrells were all consistent contributors for a football team that made the second round of the playoffs. Gamber said working those players into basketball shape will take patience.
“That right now is probably one of the toughest things is wanting to make sure that they can get their legs back and ease into it, but at the same time you only have two weeks,” Gamber said.
Fitzjerrells ended the football season with a back injury, but Gamber said the sophomore practiced without any major issues Monday.
“He looked like he was moving normally and everything,” Gamber said. “He never really seemed to look like he was favoring it or anything.”
Mt. Vernon opens the season later this month in the Herrin Pyramid Plus Tournament. The Rams have consistently competed in the Thanksgiving event over the past several years and won the title two years ago when Herrin last hosted it.
Mt. Vernon opens the event with South Seven Conference foe Marion at 7 p.m. They followed with games against Herrin (Tuesday), Salem (Wednesday), Collinsville (Friday) and St. Louis Soldan on Saturday.
“It seems like it makes it that much more exciting because you know you've only got two weeks to try and get everything ready for those first games,” Gamber said.