By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Mt. Vernon’s basketball team spent most of Tuesday’s game against Marion trying to erase a deficit.
“We can’t have the mental mistakes we had,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “We can’t give up the number of easy baskets and win a basketball game, (and) coupled with that we shot free throws horribly.”
The Rams gave themselves a chance to seize control, but Marion edged Mt. Vernon 46-41 in the Pyramid Plus Tournament. Marion took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter, and Mt. Vernon tried to chip away at the deficit until early in the fourth quarter.
The Rams trailed 34-29 with four seconds left in the third. Trevor Flota took charge and drove to the basket hitting the shot and drawing a foul. Flota led the Rams with 16 points.
The bucket sliced the deficit to 34-31. He missed his free throw, but Michael Feezer jumped high and snagged the rebound. Feezer gathered himself and hit a fade away shot with a second left in the quarter. Feezer finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Mt. Vernon opened the fourth with possession of the ball and took the lead for the first time in the game when Feezer converted another putback basket. It took Marion two minutes to take the lead back, but once the Wildcats scored Mt. Vernon never led again.
“I told them after the game I’m not mad at them because I thought they played very hard,” Gamber said. “I thought three or four times the game looked like it was getting away, we battled back into it.”
The Rams weren’t without chances in the final minutes.
Jarron Liddell made the score 42-41 after a steal and coast-to-coast basket with 2:20 left in the game. The Rams were down 44-41 when Feezer went to the foul line and missed a pair of attempts. Mt. Vernon regained possession again when the ball bounced off a Marion player with 43 seconds left. The Rams squandered possession with a backcourt violation four seconds later.
The Rams struggled shooting from 3-point range throughout the game, missing every attempt they took.
“We don’t have the team to not be able to finish and to not hit perimeter shots and still win basketball games,” Gamber said.
Gamber said he entered the season thinking perimeter shooting was a strength for his team.
“We’ve not hit anything in two games now,” Gamber said. “I hope that we’re a little maybe (nervous).
“Shooting is one of those things that it seems like it’s all about confidence. When you’re not making any, it’s hard to gain confidence.”
Marion’s Brant Hill led all scorers with 14 points. Jawan Tucker added 13.
Mt. Vernon is 1-1 this season and plays Salem at 8 p.m. tonight. The Wildcats enter the game after losing to Marion and Collinsville to start the tournament.