After the Trojans’ thrilling come-from-behind 53-49 victory over rival Mattoon on Friday, coach Brad Oakley said he hoped that performance would keep his team moving forward.
Aside from a 60-33 thrashing by Lincoln earlier in the week, Oakley said he believed the team had played well recently.
The Trojans (7-8) defeated Newton, 71-62, the week before and had won its last two games in the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic after having lost to Antioch by only one point.
That improvement was not visible in the first half against Mattoon when the Trojans fell behind 27-17 after struggling on the boards and at the free-throw line.
But an 11-0 fourth-quarter run erased those frustrations. Charleston rebounded, shot and passed better in that final quarter.
“We started popping the ball around well, we got good looks and the ball started going in the basket,” Oakley said after the game. “That gave us some energy defensively and everywhere else.”
The fourth-quarter rally came a little later than usual. The third quarter has been the Trojans’ best this season, where they hold a 230-208 scoring advantage – the only period in which they outscore opponents.
Charleston has been outscored by a 15.6-12.4 margin in the first quarter this season and enters the second half behind by 5.9 points, on average.
“You’ve just got to hang in there and keep playing,” junior center Sam Bickford said after the game.
Bickford and senior forward Caleb Hurst grabbed seven rebounds apiece against Mattoon to remain the Trojans’ two leaders in that stat category, respectively. Only two rebounds separate the two. Hurst, who has 79 total rebounds, averages 5.3 to Bickford’s 5.1. Junior guard Cade Landrus, who had five in the game, now averages 4.1, followed by senior forward Isaac Miller at 3.7.
Charleston, which has been outrebounded this season by a 3.4 margin per game, won that battle against Mattoon by a 33-27 margin.
Miller remains the Trojans’ leading scorer at 13.6 points per game, despite scoring only seven points on 2-of-12 shooting. The senior forward has the most 3-pointers at 40, 10 more than senior guard Luke Bell. Hurst, who hit three 3s in the first quarter Friday, has 18 total.
Hurst scored a team-high 17 points on five-of- 11 shooting to pad his scoring average to 12.1, second best on the team. Landrus, who had 10 points on three-of-eight shooting, averages 9.5, followed by Bickford (6.8) and Bell (6.1).
Bickford remains the Trojans’ best free-throws shooter this season, converting 75 percent of his shots – identical to his performance Friday when he made three of four. The Trojans made only half of its free throws in the first half before rallying to make eight in a row down the stretch Friday for a 70.5 percent conversation rate, significantly higher than its season average of 60.1 percent.
Here are several other Charleston stats provided by 92.1, The Axe, where you can hear the Trojans’ game at Mt. Zion at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.