By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams will have to learn about Herrin as tonight’s opening game of the Marion Pyramid Plus Tournament goes along.
Herrin lost 11 of its 15 varsity players because of graduation. Seven of the eight primary players for the Tigers were seniors.
“Personnel is a little bit of a mystery,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “I’ve called around to different coaches to find out about some of their younger guys in (junior varsity) games and know a little bit from that.”
Justin Lukens is one of the Tigers key returners. The Herrin guard hurt the Rams a season ago, scoring 15 points in a Herrin victory in the same tournament.
“He had a really nice game against us last year,” Gamber said. “(He) had a really good season. He’s a really nice player. We know what he does.”
Mt. Vernon’s starting lineup contains a quartet of guards and post player Michael Feezer. Jarron Liddell, Trevor Flota, Jake Pike and Travis Mitchell round out the starters.
Tonight’s matchup is the first of four games in five days for the Rams. Mt. Vernon has Thanksgiving day and also Saturday off. After the opener, Mt. Vernon faces Marion, Salem and Collinsville. Gamber said the matchups give him and the rest of the coaching staff a chance to learn a lot about the team immediately.
“No matter how things go, good or bad, it’s just a few games, a few weeks into the season and that doesn’t mean anything,” Gamber said. “If we have a really good tournament, that means nothing after this. If we have a really bad tournament, it means nothing.”
The structure of the tournament is different compared to past seasons. East St. Louis and Massac County withdrew, but Collinsville was added. Instead of five games in six days, teams play four times.
Tonight’s game starts at 6:30 p.m. in Marion.