By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Without their leading scorer, the Lady Rams banded together and beat Carbondale 55-44 Tuesday night.
“They had to do it as a unit tonight,” Mt. Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon said. “They had to come together as a team.”
Mt. Vernon finished with four players in double figures. Claire Ryan led the offense with 14 points. Hannah Owens and Aaliyah Palmer both added 12. Courtney Scarbrough finished with 11.
“This was one of the most rewarding wins that I’ve had,” Lonnon said. “Because we had to throw a different lineup out there without our leading scorer, and that’s hard to do. There’s chemistry issues that you can get into there.”
The Lady Rams played the game without leading scorer Haley Lockhart. The senior sat on the bench in uniform with a brace on her knee but never played. The Lady Rams struggled without Lockhart despite a win against Centralia the last time they played.
“I feared there would be more of that tonight, but there wasn’t at all. I didn’t think so anyway.”
Palmer helped the Lady Rams to a quick start with seven points in the opening quarter. The early offense from Palmer allowed Mt. Vernon to establish a 13-7 edge going into the second quarter.
“Aaliyah’s just a good athlete,” Lonnon said. “Aaliyah is kind of our glue out there along with Kelby. Kelby and Aaliyah deserve a lot more credit than they get sometimes just because they do a lot of little things that go unnoticed.”
Mt. Vernon built a double-digit advantage late in the half. Kelby Kujawa hit a pair of free throws to put the Lady Rams up 21-11 with 2:38 left in the half. She added a 3-pointer a minute later. Kujawa finished with five points.
Mt. Vernon took a 25-15 lead into halftime. The advantage grew to 34-20 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
Carbondale never threatened the Lady Rams in the final quarter.
Mt. Vernon is 7-1 this season and 3-0 in the South Seven Conference. Carbondale is 0-6 overall and 0-3 in conference play.