By PAUL HINES
Mt. Vernon’s boys basketball team played a near flawless first quarter in a 50-28 win against Herrin on Monday night.
The Rams raced to a 19-5 edge after the opening period. Mt. Vernon missed just three shots from the field and held Herrin returning starter Justin Lukens scoreless. He finished with 11 points.
“We got off to a great start, and then we got them to have to chase us,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “That’s where I probably think our guys do their best job.”
Jake Pike helped Mt. Vernon with a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. The second came at the buzzer. Trevor Flota added seven of his team high 14 in the first.
Michael Feezer joined Flota in double figures with 12 points in the game. He also led the Rams with nine rebounds.
“I thought across the board those guys showed a lot,” Gamber said. “I was proud there when we got into some foul trouble and had to throw different guys in.”
Mt. Vernon’s defense bothered the Tigers into 20 turnovers. Several steals led to easy baskets on the other end.
On the strength of the early lead, Mt. Vernon took a 28-9 advantage into halftime. The Rams started the third quarter sluggish and didn’t score until a Feezer bucket midway through the quarter. But the Tigers weren’t able to take advantage, scoring just once in the same time period.
“The start of the third quarter was horrible,” Gamber said. “That can not happen. If they get hot there to start that (half), it’s a completely different ball game.”
Mt. Vernon’s offense became more methodical in the final two quarters, and the Tigers tried to increase the tempo with a press. The Rams biggest lead of the game came at 46-23 with less than a minute left when Shakari Hawkins scored.
The Rams are 1-0 this season and play at 8 p.m. tonight against Marion.