By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
After a pair of road losses to end the regular season, the Rams try to regroup for an opening round regional matchup against Massac County this week.
The two teams face in Carbondale at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Mt. Vernon enters as the No. 2 seed, and the Patriots are the No. 3-ranked team. The top seed Carbondale plays the winner of Monday’s game between Marion and Herrin.
Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said the strength of the Patriots lies in the post where they have a size advantage against the Rams.
“Massac poses some size issues, which is not unlike what we’ve guarded all year,” Gamber said. “All year we’ve had size disadvantages. Massac does a nice job. They run some really nice sets that are designed to get the ball to their two big kids.”
Massac, which in the past has competed at the 2A level, is a new addition to 3A playoffs. The Patriots compete in the River-to-River Conference, although they played a pair of South Seven schools in the regular season. The Patriots rallied from a substantial deficit to push Marion to overtime and beat Carbondale earlier in the year.
“They maybe scheulde-wise didn’t play the same people we did, but when they have played those schools they performed very well,” Gamber said.
Friday night Carbondale hammered Mt. Vernon 73-50 and scored 30 points in the fourth quarter. The Rams were without starting forward Michael Feezer, and point guard Jarron Liddell hurt his left shoulder and missed most of the second half. Both players practiced with the team on Sunday.
“They both participated and did most of the stuff,” Gamber said. “They went through all of the scout stuff, and that sort of thing both offensively and defensively so that was good. Jarron looked to be fine for the most part (Sunday). He never really favored his shoulder.
“I’m wanting to be a little more careful with (Michael) because we kind of know what’s wrong with Jarron’s shoulder. I don’t really know what’s wrong with Michael’s back other than it gets out of line.”
Gamber added he expected them both to play Wednesday.
“If we had been playing (Sunday), I think they both could have played, and I think they both would have been fine.”