By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams will have an early morning start to the Centralia Holiday Tournament today.
Mt. Vernon faces Oak Lawn Richards (4-3) at 10 a.m. Josh Meier, a 6-6 post player, paces the Bulldogs offense and averages about 17 points a game.
“He’s obviously a really nice player, and on film he looked like he was pretty skilled around the basket and did some really good things,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “He looks like an incredible athlete. A couple of the times just on rebounds and other things, he got well above the rim.”
Other key contributors for the Bulldogs are guards Cortez Harper and Dedrick Shannon.
“Both can shoot it. Both are pretty offensively skilled,” Gamber said.
Several of the teams in the tournament are familiar foes for Mt. Vernon, but Oak Lawn is a team that brings a certain amount of unknowns for the Rams.
“It’s something that you hope for a little bit in the Christmas tournament, playing teams you don’t normally play and that sort of thing,” Gamber said. “So I think that’s a good thing.”
The winner of the matchup plays the winner of the Belleville West-Salem game at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The loser plays the loser of the same matchup at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
The Rams start the tournament after a loss at Marion on Friday night. Mt. Vernon featured a different starting lineup that included freshman Braden Fitzjerrells in the game against the Wildcats. Gamber said the Rams will stay with the same lineup today. He added one of the focuses of the game will be trying to control the tempo and flow.
“I thought Marion really dictated the entire pace of play that whole game,” Gamber said. “They got us into an up and down game, and then we were having to chase and play a style we’re not as good at.”
Mt. Vernon is 7-4 this season.