Salem strikes again as Rams’ skid continues

Brandyn Wilcoxen, Sports Writer

One month removed from Mt. Vernon’s streak-snapping loss in Salem, the headline was anticipated to read “Rams get revenge”. The team bounced back after a tough Effingham loss with a 65-36 beatdown on the Triad Knights in the morning session Saturday. The Rams win and a Salem Wildcats win over Centralia set up a date between the Rams and Wildcats in the consolation championship of the Salem Invitational Tournament.

Then, the storm hit. The game, which was originally scheduled for that same Saturday, was postponed in favor of a Monday night tip-off due to severe winter weather. When the January holiday came, B.E. Gum Gymnasium was nearly at full capacity. A raucous student section and a confident Salem squad gave the Wildcats a home-court advantage that could not be overcome, as the Mt. Vernon Rams fell once again in Salem to the Wildcats.


This time around, the score was not as close, as the Wildcats followed up a 1-point nailbiter against the Rams in December with a 61-52 triumph over a Rams team that is now 12-7 on the season. The result gave Salem the Consolation Championship in their own tournament, while Mt. Vernon went home empty-handed.


Scoring for the Rams was led by Jackson Creel, ‘20 and Weston Brockhouse, ‘19 with 13 points each, followed by 11 points from Amir Spann, ‘20, nine points from Lukas Cooper, ‘19, and six points from Simon Wilson, ‘20. Brockhouse was named to the First Team All-Tournament, and Spann was named to the Second Team All-Tournament.


The beginning of the contest saw both teams go back and forth, trading the lead six times in the first two quarters to give a halftime score of 22-21 in favor of the Wildcats. Given their recent history, both teams knew every point mattered. With the Rams trailing close behind, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run at the end of the third period to give them a seven-point advantage entering the final 8 minutes.


While the Rams were able to whittle the lead down to two possessions – and coming within 4 points halfway through the fourth quarter – but couldn’t complete the comeback and dropped their sixth game out of their last nine. Mt. Vernon turned in another disappointing tournament showing with a 1-2 record in both the Centralia Holiday Tournament and the Salem Invitational Tournament. However, the Rams face a favorable schedule for the rest of the season, with games against Marion, Carbondale, Centralia, and Herrin, all teams that the Rams beat on their seven-game win streak in November and December. Additionally, the Rams have a rematch against an Effingham team that needed overtime and the loss of Spann to win, and three other home games where the Rams are undefeated.


In other words, the past may be grim, but the future looks bright in The Vern.


The Rams will return to Stanley A. Changnon Gymnasium to defend their 3-0 record at home against South 7 rival Marion Wildcats on Friday, January 25th. Mt. Vernon is already 2-0 in the 2018-19 season against these Wildcats, and look to achieve a season sweep.