By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams will try to avenge a loss from earlier this season when they travel to Effingham tonight.
The two teams played during the opening round of the Salem Invitational Tournament, and Effingham used a strong 14-3 start on its way to beating Mt. Vernon.
“They got off to such a great start on us at Salem and really we had to play catchup the rest of the game,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon ended the season with a perfect home record after a Friday night win over Marion. The road has presented a challenge for the Rams. Outside of tournament victories, Mt. Vernon is still searching for its first road win of the season. In the last two South Seven Conference road games the Rams lost 49-36 at Centralia and 63-52 at state-ranked Cahokia. In addition to the trip to Effingham, Mt. Vernon ends the regular season with a game at Carbondale before entering regional play.
“Outside of the Centralia game, we’ve been in every single game we’ve played, but we’ve not gotten over the hump on the road,” Gamber said. “We’ve been close. We’ve put ourselves with a chance to win, but then we’re not getting it done.”
The undersized Rams will once again have to contend with an Effingham team filled with skilled post players. The Flaming Hearts feature Josh (6-7) and Jake Stombaugh (6-6) along with Leighton Lark (6-6). Hunter Keith has the potential to create problems in the post from his guard position with his 6-2 size. Keith led Effingham with 12 points in the matchup at Salem.
“We’re going to try to make them as perimeter oriented as we can,” Gamber said. “It’s not going to be easy because they have a lot more size than we do at every single spot.”
Mt. Vernon is 14-10 this season. The matchup starts with junior varsity action at 6:15 p.m.