By PAUL HINES
Alton’s Carlos Anderson beat the buzzer in a 52-51 win against Mt. Vernon on Saturday at the Centralia Holiday Tournament.
“Before or after the buzzer, that doesn’t matter,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “We should have boxed out. It wouldn’t have been an issue.”
Jake Pike put the Rams ahead 51-50 on a 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds left in the game. Alton took over possession and tossed the ball into the post to Anderson, who had two shots at the basket.
Trevor Flota blocked both attempts and sent the second out of bounds with three seconds left. After a timeout, Alton threw the ball into Tyrone Parker. His 3-pointer missed, but Anderson grabbed the rebound and scored. The shot was ruled good, ending the game and Mt. Vernon’s tournament.
“The whole thing is we box out it doesn’t matter what the call is,” Gamber said. “So that’s on us. Shot goes up, we have four guys watching the ball nobody boxing their man out.”
Alton consistently pressured Mt. Vernon all over the court. The defense forced the Rams into 14 second-half turnovers. The extra possessions allowed the Redbirds to erase a 33-22 halftime deficit.
“(We) panicked a lot against the pressure in the second half,” Gamber said. “I didn’t think it was any different or more than it was the first half. I just thought the first half we did a good job handling it. The second half we didn’t as much.”
The Rams’ Trevor Flota helped build the Mt. Vernon lead in the opening half. The senior had 15 points to lead all scorers and hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Rams.
Braden Fitzjerrells was also in double figures with 13 points. Anderson led Alton with 14. Flota and Fitzjerrells combined to give the Rams an early lead. Flota drove baseline for a bucket to put Mt. Vernon up 12-8 late in the opening quarter. He followed with a 3-pointer, and Fitzjerrells gave the Rams an 18-10 edge with 35 seconds left in the quarter after hitting a 3-pointer.
Mt. Vernon finished the tournament 1-2 with both losses coming at the buzzer.
“I think that’s probably what hurts the most is to have two chances but not get it,” Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon is 8-6 this season.