By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams held off Althoff and remained undefeated at Changnon Gymnasium with a 56-49 win Friday night.
“That’s nice,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “That part is really nice. I thought we played really well for long stretches.”
Four players reached double digits in the game for the Rams. Jake Pike led the group with 15 points. Trevor Flota added 13. Shakari Hawkins and Michael Feezer chipped in a dozen points each.
“I thought Jake played outstanding, getting to the rim, getting into their defense,” Gamber said. “He made a couple really nice passes.”
Mt. Vernon took a 16-8 lead into the second quarter before an Althoff rally tightened the game. The Crusaders scored the opening 10 points of the quarter to go ahead 18-16. Keenan Young scored six points during the surge and led the team with 20.
“I think sometimes when things go bad, our response is we’re going to go make a play,” Gamber said. “We can’t do that. I think when things are going a little bad then you’ve got to get more solid.”
The game stayed close until the fourth quarter when the Rams pulled away again. Up 38-34, Mt. Vernon scored the next eight points to push its lead to double digits.
Once again Althoff closed the gap. The Crusaders sliced the deficit to 49-45 with two minutes left. Mt. Vernon aided Althoff in its comeback with several missed free throws. The Crusaders closed the gap to a point with less than a minute left.
“The game would have been really nice if we would have just made our free throws,” Gamber said.
The Rams shook off their foul line woes in the final minute, hitting seven of eight attempts to close out the victory.
Mt. Vernon played the game without starting point guard Jarron Liddell, who dislocated his shoulder on Thursday after slipping on a stair at the high school, according to Gamber. Liddell is expected to miss one or two weeks of action.
“It’s a huge loss for floor leadership,” Gamber said. “It’s a huge loss for defense.”
Mt. Vernon is 12-9 this season overall and 4-3 in South Seven Conference play.