Conference race breaks open as Rams fall to Terriers

Brandyn Wilcoxen, Sports Writer

For every up, there is a down. For every triumph, there is disaster. For every dominating victory, there is disheartening defeat. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. On December 7, 2018, the Mt. Vernon Rams claimed a 57-38 victory over the Carbondale Terriers, and on February 1, 2019, the Terriers returned the favor.


The Rams fell to the Terriers on Friday night 40-28, falling to 14-8 in the process. Mt. Vernon fell to 4-2 in South Seven play. The Rams currently stand ½ game back of the Althoff Crusaders (12-11, 5-2) in the conference race, with the Centralia Orphans (9-12, 4-3) and Terriers (19-4, 4-3) close behind.


Friday’s game at Carbondale paralleled that weekend’s Super Bowl in that neither team was firing offensively in the first half. While Carbondale ended the first and second periods with 6-0 and 16-3 leads respectively – for comparison, Mt. Vernon led 19-3 after the first quarter in their matchup earlier in the season – they had all the momentum in the world, as Mt. Vernon failed to hit a single shot in the first half of the game.


Perhaps the offensive futility could be the fault of Coach Lance Boldt, who filled in for an absent Doug Creel (illness), but Boldt has only lost twice in his two seasons coaching the JV team since returning to MVTHS in 2017. Boldt’s JV squad routinely scores over 50 points per game, often ranging around 75 points when playing in Stanley A. Changnon Gymnasium.


Perhaps the issue was the loss of Amir Spann, ‘20, who went down with a knee injury midway through the fourth quarter. His loss, along with foul trouble from the rest of the starting unit, led to an inability to play aggressive defense or give their best scorer an opportunity offensively. However, one could argue the game had been decided by that point, as Carbondale was leading 31-23 with 2:16 left at the time of Spann’s injury.


Perhaps Carbondale executed their gameplan well, shutting down Mt. Vernon’s top scorers in Spann, Weston Brockhouse, ‘19, and Simon Wilson, ‘20 who scored 11 points, 1 point, and 0 points respectively. The Terriers also limited starters Jackson Creel, ‘20, and Lukas Cooper, ‘19 to 9 points and 3 points respectively, while Quani Rudd, ‘21 contributed 4 points off the bench.


Overall, the Rams’ performance was disappointing to say the least. Every time they seem to be trending upwards, such as winning back-to-back games for the first time since December, disaster strikes. Whether it’s a seven-game win streak snapped by the surprisingly successful Salem Wildcats, a Centralia Holiday Tournament outing ending with zero double-digit scorers against Chatham Glenwood, an undefeated conference record ruined by perennial conference favorites Althoff, yet another crushing loss against Salem in the consolation round of their own tournament, or the Rams’ February status of first placers wiped out by the Terriers, the Rams have had their share of struggles this season.


For the sake of Ram Nation, the next three weeks are crucial in deciding their postseason fate, and ultimately how they will be remembered. Will the 2018-19 Rams go down in history as one of the best teams since the ‘99 squad? Or will they be remembered, or even forgotten, as the team that couldn’t succeed with the greatest of expectations?


The Rams will return to the court on Friday, February 8th in Centralia to take on the Orphans. Tipoff for the JV game is scheduled for 6:15, with the varsity game to follow.