By Brian Nielsen
MATTOON — After a relatively encouraging second quarter and a 3-pointer to start the third quarter, Mattoon was within nine with hopes of catching Grant Coleman-led Mahomet-Seymour.
But after a 14-0 Mahomet-Seymour run punctuating the second half, Mattoon wasn’t even going to catch Coleman.
The University of Milwaukee-bound Coleman finished with 44 points, leading Mahomet to Tuesday’s 73-37 Apollo Conference boys’ basketball win over the Green Wave.
“He’s so long,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said of the 6-foot-7 Coleman. “He’s so basketball smart. Sometimes, we struggle with that. If there’s a loose ball, he’s going to get it and score.”
The Green Wave, losing for the seventh time in the last eight games to fall to 5-11 overall and 1-5 in the Apollo, did shut out Coleman through one possession as the star’s lob pass failed to connect with a Bulldog teammate and sailed out of bounds.
But after Sam Bradbury’s rebound basket gave Mattoon its one and only lead at 2-0, Coleman was not looking to pass to a teammate.
He got two 3-pointers and then two free throws after a Wave turnover, a signal for Ghere to switch from a straight-zone defense to a box-and-one, and, eventually, a man-to-man.
Regardless, by the end of the first quarter Coleman had 17 points and his Bulldogs a 24-13 lead.
“It’s tough to play a box-and-one,” Ghere said. “A team like Mahomet can still get some other guys to score. We tried zone, we tried man.”
While limiting Mahomet to 10 second-quarter points to trail 34-22 at halftime, Mattoon could never get its own offense going against a Bulldogs defense that put Coleman out front on a 1-2-2 zone.
“It’s hard to simulate that in practice,” Ghere said. “We put a 5-9 guy out there and he’s 6-7. And if you turn it over to him, he’s going to get a basket.”
Even when not losing the ball on passes, the Wave could not capitalize.
That was especially the case after Cam’Ron Thomas’ 3-pointer to start the second half cut Mattoon’s deficit to a seemingly manageable 34-25.
Mahomet then scored the next 14 points in Mattoon’s 3:47 scoreless drought that left the Wave behind 48-25.
“Just not making shots,” Ghere said of the decisive third quarter. “We had some open 3s. When you only make three or four 3s and you shoot 20…”
The result was a running clock on the IHSA’s 30-point mercy rule to end the game as Mahomet raised its record to 9-8 and 5-1 for second place in the Apollo.
Ghere still saw positives for his Wave team led by Bradbury and Thomas, who scored 13 points apiece.
“I liked the effort,” the Wave coach said. “It would be easy to put out heads down, but we’re not. In a season like this, sometimes you go to younger guys, but tonight we started what, four seniors? As long as they continue to compete they are going to play.”
The next chance for the Wave is Friday’s Wall of Fame home game against non-conference Rantoul.
MATTOON: Thomas 4 2-2 13, Morton 0 0-0 0, Middleton 1-2 3, Compton 0 2-2 2, Wright 1 2-2 4 Farmer 0 0-0 0, Faulkner-Elliott 0 0-0 0, Cardwell 0 0-0 0, Bergstrom 0 0-0 0, Kirts 0 0-0 0, Yardley 1 0-0 2, Bradbury 6 1-4 13. Totals 13 8-12 37. 3-point goals: Thomas 3