Mt. Vernon ends Tigers' season
Bad second quarter dooms Herrin in 63-42 defeat; Tigers finish 12-18

MT. VERNON – The Herrin Tigers entered their contest on Monday night against Mt. Vernon feeling pretty good about their chances to advance into the regional semifinals.

After all they had split two games with the Rams earlier in the season, including a 67-60 win at home on January 27.

But usually in postseason games you need to be able to take care of the basketball if you want to be successful.

Herrin didn't.

Head coach Sayler Shurtz saw his club commit 19-turnovers, including four consecutive key mistakes in a two minute stretch in the second quarter, as the Rams pulled ahead to stay in a 63-42 victory Monday night at Changnon Gym.

Held without a field goal in the second quarter (0-5) along with those turnovers, Herrin fell behind 23-15 at halftime after leading 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The Tigers ended their season at 12-18 while the Rams are now 17-11 on the season as they will now face top-seeded Centralia on Tuesday night.

Coach Doug Creal and his Rams were led in scoring by 6-foot-2 sophomore Amir Spann with 21-points.

Two other Rams; junior Lukas Cooper and senior O'Shea Hardin, added double-figures in scoring with 11 and 10-points respectively in the victory.

“Defensively we are a lot better. It was a good win. That (Herrin turnovers) was a big difference in the game. We got a few of those and some easy baskets off of them. We get a chance to play tomorrow and it will be a whole different animal tomorrow,” said Coach Creal.

The Tigers got 12-points from junior guard Hayden Holloway on four 3-pointers, three of which came in Herrin's best run of the game in the first quarter.

Junior guard Drew Ringel and junior Garrett Venegoni chipped in nine and seven-points in the game for Herrin.

His first long range shot gave the Tigers a short lead at 5-4 early in the frame and then the 6-foot-2 guard nailed back-to-back trey's to close the stanza.

After a strong first quarter effort where they took a 13-11 advantage, Herrin went 10:01 without a field goal spanning the end of the first quarter into the early part of the third quarter.

Even though Herrin was still within striking range at the beginning of the second half despite its offensive issues, Mt. Vernon gradually pulled away in the third quarter for the postseason win.

Defensively the Rams were more than just stingy. While they forced most of the Tigers' turnovers, other than losing Holloway three times in the first quarter, they made things difficult on the Herrin offense.

Coach Shurtz's club were just 12-of-36 from the field overall, and just 6-of-22 from the arc.

The other key stat that pointed to the Rams' win was a 30-18 rebounding edge.

Not only did Herrin struggle shooting the ball, the Tigers were limited to just four offensive rebounds, all of which came late in the game after the decision had already been rendered.

The Rams totals were much more impressive.

Mt. Vernon hit 23-of-51 from the floor overall, with the better percentage coming from the inside.

Coach Creal's squad finished up 21-of-38 in two-point field goals.

The Rams were much more proficient on offense handling the rock, committing just eight turnovers. Two of the miscues came in the final minute of the game with the reserves on the floor.

“The second quarter killed us. We turned the ball over too many times,” said Coach Shurtz. “When you do that against a very physical and well coached team like Mt. Vernon it's going to be hard to dig yourself out of that hole. We experienced that in the second quarter. We just couldn't get things going offensively and we turned the ball over. It just wasn't our night. They capitalized on our turnovers and they are strong in the paint. They (Mt. Vernon) are a very good ball club.”

The 10-0 run in the second frame was more of casual walk in the park by the hosts as it took up 6:41 of the clock.

Four different Rams scored in the move that was unanswered by the Tigers.

Hardin hit a pair of free throws to open the frame and Spann scored on a nice drive in the lane for a pull up jumper that gave the Rams the lead at 15-13 at the 6:40 mark.

Senior guard Zach Williams got in on the fun with a drive in the lane and junior forward Weston Brockhouse connected on a shot in the paint off of an inbounds pass.

Hardin added a score from near the foul line which closed the run at 21-13.

Herrin's only points of the quarter came on two free throws by Ringel with :24.2 remaining.

Holding the ball for the final shot of the half, the Rams got the look that they wanted as Hardin got the ball near the top of the circle and his fade away 15-footer found the mark just before the buzzer as Mt. Vernon went to the break up 23-15.

The second 10-0 run by the Rams gave them the spread that they needed in the third quarter,

Spann drove the baseline for a score while being fouled and his made free throw opened the scoring sprint.

A steal and fast break lay in by junior Lukas Cooper and consecutive scores by Williams closed the move.

Williams bounced in a 3-pointer from the left corner and he followed that up with a rebound basket which stretched the margin to 37-20 with with 3:59 left.

If you were looking for the best part of the Herrin night, it was at the foul line.

The Tigers were 12-of-13 from the stripe, and their next points happened with senior guard Bronson Nesler was fouled shooting a 3-pointer.

He made all three attempts to close the lead down to 37-23.

It also closed the highlights for Herrin in the season ending defeat.

Mt. Vernon held the Tigers at arm's length the remainder of the contest.

“We talked about not giving them easy baskets and in the first quarter we let them hit three 3's and we talked about not letting them get the 3's and drives to the basket and they will have a hard time scoring,” said Coach Creal. “And they make their free throws. When we fouled them, they made them.”

Williams converted a nice back door lay in on a pass from Hardin and Brockhouse converted a conventional three-point play.

When Spann converted two more free throws, Mt. Vernon was up 46-27.

Venegoni came off the bench for the Tigers and hit a 3-pointer and a driving hook shot in the lane to give Herrin some short lived hope heading into the fourth quarter.

The Rams left the door slightly open for Herrin to step through but the Tigers couldn't hit enough shots in the final quarter (3-of-12) and they added four more turnovers to the stats.

Mt. Vernon was also quite good at the foul line, hitting 15-of-18.

Mt. Vernon will now face Centralia on Tuesday night for the third time after losing both regular season games to the Orphans in this long standing rivalry.

“That's the name of the game (survive and advance) and it was nice to get a win against them (Herrin) and we played a little better tonight. The last time we played them they played really well down there (Herrin) and we were worried about them but we came out and took care of business,” said Coach Creal. “We did the job tonight, we got to the rim. We just played well. Tomorrow night will be a different animal (Centralia).”

Mt. Vernon
Herrin (42) – Anthony 2 0 0-0 4, Nesler 1 0 3-3 5, Towle 0 0 0-0 0, Holloway 0 4 0-0 12, Stucker 0 0 0-0 0, Ringel 0 1 6-6 9, Vaughn 1 0 1-2 3, Johnson 0 0 2-2 2, Baumgarte 0 0 0-0 0, Venegoni 2 1 0-0 7.
2FG-6, 3FG-6, FT-12-13, PF-16.

Mt. Vernon (63) – Creal 0 0 1-2 1, Williams 4 1 0-0 11, Spann 8 0 5-6 21, Nelson 0 0 0-0 0, Pelton 0 0 0-0 0, Sharp 0 0 0-0 0, Hardin 4 0 2-3 10, Martin 0 0 0-0 0, Cooper 3 1 2-2 11, Dees 0 0 0-0 0, Jennings 0 0 2-2 2, Wilson 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-21, 3FG-2, FT-15-16, PF-13.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.