By PAUL HINES
The Comanches cranked up their offense in the second half and beat Mt. Vernon 63-52 Friday night.
“When we had adversity, I thought we mentally kind of got out of it,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said.
Shakari Hawkins gave the Rams a 23-21 lead going into halftime after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The play started with a missed three from Cahokia’s Carleton Rivers. Mt. Vernon’s Braden Fitzjerrells grabbed the rebound and pushed it ahead to Hawkins, who connected from the corner.
“(The first half) was the slower game. The crowd was out of it,” Gamber said. “Two they missed some shots early, and three our guys did a great job of the guys we wanted shooting perimeter shots were shooting them. The guys we didn’t want weren’t getting them.”
Cahokia quickly erased any Mt. Vernon halftime momentum with a 13-0 run to start the third quarter. The burst gave the Comanches a 34-23 edge.
Cahokia’s Keenan Minor was in the middle of the offense. Minor opened the third with a pair of free throws. He added a pair more followed by a 3- pointer before Vincent Jackson and Derenzo Jennings finished off the run. Minor led all scorers with 24 points.
“We cannot keep having those stretches,” Gamber said. “It’s like one or two bad things happen. We put our head down, and we look up and then we regroup but by the time we regrouped we’re down 10, 12 points. Then it’s
During the Cahokia surge, Mt. Vernon’s Jake Pike was hit with a technical foul for an elbow.
Mt. Vernon tried to chip away at the Cahokia lead but never got close.
Hawkins cut the deficit to 40-31 late in the third with a layup. He finished with a dozen points. Minor answered at the buzzer with one of his five 3-pointers to push the lead to a dozen.
“We can’t let Minor do that,” Gamber said. “We said if one of the other guys beats us, great for them. If Minor beats us, shame on us. And that’s what we allowed to happen tonight.
“When you’re that good and a team messes up, you make them pay,” Gamber said. “And he made us pay all night tonight.”
Cahokia stretched its lead out to 15 points in the middle of the fourth quarter. Trevor Flota and Clayton Reeves briefly cut the Cahokia lead to 10 with back-to-back 3-pointers late in the fourth.
Michael Feezer led the Rams with 13 points. Flota was also in double figures with 11.
Mt. Vernon is 13-10 this season and 4-4 in South Seven Conference play.