Lady Rams Go back-to-back in Benton Christmas Classic

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Cam Meyer, Sports Editor

The Lady Rams are back-to-back Benton Christmas Classic Tournament Champions. 

The MV Girls finished with a final record of 4-0 over the entire tournament. 

“We got the #1 seed. So there is some pressure not to lose that goes with that. It’s much different than when you are an underdog. Our girls handled that added pressure very well,” asserted Head Coach Jeff Lonnon.

The Lady Rams dominated their respective contests, averaging just under 74 total points per game offensively and allowing just 33 points on the defensive side of the ball.

The Lady Rams started their convincing showing by going up against the JV Benton Rangers.

“The team’s mindset was to stay strong and stay focused to win,” stated point guard Tiara Johnson, ‘23.

Moving passed the JV Rangers quickly, the end score came out to an impressive 76-17, setting the mood for the rest of this tournament.

No team came within 31 points of the Rams throughout the tournament, as they continued to bulldoze through the competition with a win over the Vienna Eagles 77-31.

“We prepared mentally by playing our gameday music, focusing on ourselves, and having positive talk amongst ourselves. Physically we kept the same routine, stretched, and got good amounts of sleep,” described shooting guard Kamaree Pollard, ‘25.

The Lady Rams then went up against the Salem Wildcats and controlled the game throughout, letting up only 20 points at the half.

After two more dominant quarters, MV won 75-44, and the Lady Rams were on their way to their second Benton Holiday Championship Game in a row, looking to become back-to-back champions.

“The team’s mindset was very confident, everyone was very focused on the game,” said center Alaina Mauer, ‘23.

The Lady Rams were matched up against the Varsity Benton Rangers, and as they went up against their JV earlier in the tournament, Benton knew what they had on their plate.

“The mindset that we had as a team was that we were gonna win and Benton was going to take a second L from us,” asserted Pollard.

Benton’s IQ on the Rams seemed to play no part in the outcome of the game, MV only let up 9 points in the first quarter to our own 27. 

Justice Malone led the game, not only in the first quarter where she made 4 straight shots to start it off, but for the whole game, finishing with 16 total points.

“We won this tournament last year and winning again was our main focus. We not only wanted to win the entire thing, but we wanted these wins to be quality wins. We’ve all been living in the shadow of last year’s seniors and we knew now was our time to shine,” described shooting guard Justice Malone, ‘23.

The Lady Rams acquired their fourth win in the Championship over Benton 67-41, making the whole tournament seem like a cakewalk.

“My favorite moment is always being presented [with] that giant 1st place trophy knowing you were the best team out of the 16 teams there. That’s a great accomplishment,” said Coach Lonnon.

The Mount Vernon Lady Rams basketball program was touted as having a “bright future” by many, even after losing a handful of Seniors from the year prior. 

Last year’s undefeated JV team, now today’s Varsity starters, have fulfilled expectations to say the least, as they currently have a 15-4 overall record (4-0 in South Seven) and finished this tournament in dominating fashion.

“I am so proud of everyone for their hard work and being supportive, especially the fans,” Mauer stated “Lady Rams are back-to-back Champs!”

Along with becoming back-to-back champions, Tiara Johnson, Kamaree Pollard, and Justice Malone were awarded spots on the All-Tourney Team as well.

“I would just like to add how proud I am of every single person on this team. Whether they’re a starter, 6th man, or last off the bench. Not many of us have been able to play in such close and intense games at this level before, so for us to unite and dominate the way we have been dominating amazes me. We have so many underclassmen stepping up to take care of business, and I can’t wait to see our progress for the rest of the season. This team holds a very special place in my heart,” said Malone.