Rams top Monroe City in OT

Spann hits game-winning shot at buzzer


Luke Cooper, ’19 eyes the Centralia defender on Friday night against the Orphans.

Brandyn Wilcoxen, Sports Writer

17 hours prior, the Mt. Vernon Rams had just wrapped up a conference victory at home against Centralia. 4 hours prior, the team was getting on the bus to go to Webster Groves High School. One game later, they were celebrating at center-court after a seventh consecutive win, good for a 9-1 start to the 2018-19 campaign.

The Rams faced a tough opponent in Monroe City (MO), led by All-Missouri guard CE Talton, who averaged 25 points per game in 2017.

“He’s really good. Probably the best player we’ve seen this year,” said Coach Doug Creel on Talton.

The first game of the 12th Annual Ramey Basketball Midwest Showdown Shootout was advertised as a battle between “one of the top Missouri 3A teams” in Monroe City, and “a deep and balanced Mt. Vernon team”.  It was up to the teams to deliver, and they did just that with an Overtime Thriller that ended with a 49-47 Rams win.

The game tipped off at Webster Groves with back-and-forth baskets. Both teams traded baskets, but a 15-3 run for the Rams at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter allowed Mt. Vernon to take a 21-10 lead. The Monroe City Panthers took a timeout, and came out of it with a run of their own, trimming the lead to six heading into halftime.

The third period saw Panther jumpshots being consistently countered by three-pointers from Jackson Creel, ’20, who totaled nine of his 15 points in the third period. Creel’s hot hand gave the Rams a comfortable 39-29 advantage entering the final quarter of regulation.

The Rams converted an early two-pointer, but the next seven minutes of play were dominated by an eleven point run for Monroe City, interrupted only by an and-1 play by Simon Wilson, ’20. In the span of one quarter, the Panthers had clawed back to make it a tie ball game following a converted and-1 from CE Talton.

Mt. Vernon got the ball with 52 seconds left on the clock, and dribbled the ball out. They were holding on for one final shot. With 4.9 seconds remaining, Weston Brockhouse, ’19 was found in the post for a surefire game-winner, but was fouled. Brockhouse sank both free throws to give MV a 45-43 lead, but the Panthers wouldn’t go down without a fight. Needing a bucket to tie, Monroe City gave the ball to Talton, who found an opening for a buzzer-beating layup to knot the game up at 45 all. For the first time this season, the Rams were going to overtime.

The 4-minute extra period proved just enough for the Rams. Early on, Brockhouse hit a shot from the block to give Mt. Vernon a 2 point advantage. It took nearly all of the four minutes for the Panthers to knot it up, and it came from two Talton free throws. For the second time, the Rams were going to get the ball, and this time, they were going to make sure they got the final shot.

The game clock ticked down. 8…7…6… Luke Cooper, ’19 handed the ball off to Amir Spann, ’20. 5…4…3… Spann dribbled up to the top of the key. 2…1… With a defender in his face, Spann released what would be the final shot.

The final buzzer sounded, almost on time with the sound of the ball going through the net. The shot had fallen. The Rams were victorious. Amir Spann’s final shot sealed the win for the hottest team in Southern Illinois.

The leading scorers for the Rams were Creel with 15 points, Brockhouse with 13 points, and Cooper with 11 points. Also appearing on the stat sheet were Spann with 8 points, and Wilson with 2 points.

The Rams will return to the court on the road against the Salem Wildcats on Tuesday, December 18th.