By Brian Nielsen
MATTOON — With hopes for an earlier wake-up call Friday, Mattoon’s girls’ basketball itinerary worked fine Thursday.
“We just kind of kick into gear,” junior Delainey Bryant said. “We start off kind of slow, coach gets on us and we kick it into gear.”
So after trailing after the first quarter in both of its pool play games Thursday, the Green Wave’s next gear worked to run away to two victories to start the 41st annual Mattoon Girls’ Basketball Holiday Tournament.
Mattoon turned an 11-8 first-quarter deficit into a 51-36 mid-day win over Vandalia and then overcame Decatur St. Teresa’s 7-6 first-quarter edge to beat the Bulldogs 53-37 in the evening.
Rather than claim motivational speeches, coach Amanda Aydt pointed other reasons for her Green Wave overcoming shaky starts to improve to 14-1 this season going into Friday’s 1 p.m. game against Mahomet-Seymour, matching two teams that are 2-0 in Pool A of the tourney. The semifinals are set for Friday night and the finals for Saturday at the Mattoon High School gym.
Particularly, the second half of the second game may have Mattoon gaining some momentum.
“We did a much better job in the second half,” Aydt said. “We did a better job running the offense. We created some (St. Teresa) turnovers that led to some layups. Our shots started to fall in the second half. We also did a better job communicating on the defensive end.”
As usual, Mallory Ramage was at the forefront, continuing her sensational sophomore season with 21- and 26-point games.
Scoreless in the first quarter of the first-round game, Ramage erupted for 10 points in the second period when Mattoon scorched the Vandals 16-4 for a 24-15 halftime lead – and she followed with a nine-point third quarter when the Wave turned an 18-11 advantage to a 42-26 commanding lead.
Ramage had another 10-point second quarter that evening when Mattoon doubled up St. Teresa 14-7 for a 20-14 halftime lead and scored eight in the third period when the lead ballooned to 41-28.
Ramage also had game-highs of six assists and seven steals against St. Teresa. Bryant contributed 15 points in the win over Vandalia and then came up with a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double against St. Teresa. She led the Wave rebounding without dominant size.
“You just have to read the ball,” Bryant said. “Most of the time it’s going to the weak side, and you just crash the boards.”
This helped Mattoon bounce back from its season’s first loss Monday against Sullivan. “We learned from it and the girls came out ready to play today,” Aydt said.
Bryant said: “Obviously, losing stinks. But you learn from it. At least it wasn’t a conference game.”
Friday afternoon Mattoon faces a rematch against a Mahomet-Seymour team it beat a couple of weeks ago in an Apollo Conference game.
“They’re good,” Aydt said of Mahomet’s Bulldogs. “It’s always a good game against them.”
The winner of the Mattoon/Mahomet game is to play at 7 p.m. against the Pool B runner-up and the loser is to play at 8:30 against the Pool B winner.
Mahomet defeated St. Teresa 62-31 and Vandalia 41-25 in its Pool A games Thursday.
Olney and Altamont are both 2-0 in Pool B heading into an 11:30 a.m. Friday showdown.
Olney beat Effingham St. Anthony 62-31 and then edged Galesburg 33-32 in Thursday’s only tourney game decided by single digits. Altamont defeated Galesburg 49-39 and St. Anthony 61-46.
Friday’s action is to start with an 8:30 a.m. game between St. Teresa and Vandalia before St. Anthony faces Galesburg at 10.
Mattoon 51, Vandalia 36
Mattoon: Haacke 0 0-1 0, Greeson 0 0-0 0, Bryant 7 0-0 15, Gill 1 0-1 2, Sapp 1 0-0 2, Pruitt 2 0-0 5, Jurka 0 0-2 0, Niebrugge 1 0-2 2, Ramage 9 1-2 21, Niemerg 2 0-0 4. Totals 23 1-8 51. 3-point goals: Bryant 1, Pruitt 1, Ramage 2. Rebounds: Niemerg 5. Assists: Ramage 3. Steals: Ramage 6.
Mattoon 53, St Teresa 37
Mattoon: Haacke 0 0-0 0, Greeson 0 0-0 0, Bryant 4 4-6 12, Hill 0 0-0 0, Sapp 2 0-0 2, Pruitt 2 0-0 5, Farmer 0 0-0, Niebrugge 0 0-0 0, Ramage 11 3-6 26, Niemerg 4 0-0 8. Totals 22 7-13 53. 3-point goals: Pruitt 1, Ramage 1. Rebounds: Bryant 11, Sapp 5, Niemerg 4. Assists: Ramage 6, Bryant 2. Steals: Bryant 4, Ramage 7.