By Brian Nielsen
MATTOON –Before any Wall of Fame honors were recognized, before any of the 13 3-pointers were made as part of Mattoon’s season-high 80 points, and certainly before Green Wave fans ran onto the court to celebrate with players, productive moves were in place.
First, this boys’ basketball game was moved to Thursday night ahead of a Friday with troublesome weather in the forecast.
“I suggested it Tuesday,” Green Wave coach Ryan Ghere said. “The girls’ game had been moved up to Wednesday. “
While the girls were playing a night earlier than originally scheduled at the high school gym in a previously determined change because of a conflict, Dalton Compton went to the YMCA.
“I went to the gym and got in 160 shots,” the senior guard said. “Whenever we don’t practice, I go there. It’s just getting consistent with my shot.”
Compton found that shot Thursday night, hitting six of nine 3-pointers and a career-high 24 points that led Mattoon to an 80-46 non-conference win over Rantoul.
“We’ve been waiting on that,” Ghere said. “Tonight, he got his feet set and we got him the ball. It’s all confidence with him.
“Another guy who played well was Cam’Ron (Thomas),” Ghere added. “Not just on the perimeter, but going to the basket. He did well inside and out.”
The junior Thomas contributed 18 points, senior guard Mason Wright had 13 and sophomore center Samuel Bradbury 10 as Mattoon got its first win of 2020 and raised its record to 6-11.
“I thought we played more as a team tonight,” Wright said. “We were moving the ball around.”
Said Compton said: “Our shots were falling tonight. Our shots hadn’t been falling. And the defense was good tonight.”
Granted, maybe it helped playing a Rantoul team that now stands 1-12 in a season in which Brett Frerichs resigned as head coach earlier in the month, replaced by Ryan Parker.
“We don’t want to take any team lightly,” Wright said.
This eventual rout still had its struggles as Ghere had to call a timeout just 72 seconds into the game when Rantoul took a 4-2 lead and another midway on a rollercoaster second period.
“Rebounds and turnovers,” Compton said of the aggravating moments.
After the Wave erupted for five 3-pointers in a two-minute, 43-second span for a 31-18 lead, Rantoul cut that to 37-30 by halftime.
“The last minute of the second quarter hurt,” Ghere said. “We let an 11-point lead get down to seven. They try to make it a helter-skelter game and we didn’t handle it very well at the end of the half. The thing is: The first few minutes of the third quarter we took control.”
After Rantoul pulled within 37-32 to start the second, Mattoon, on Compton’s 3-pointer with 7:19 left in the third quarter, surpassed its previous game’s total of Tuesday’s 73-37 loss to Mahomet-Seymour.
This game was still in doubt at 44-37 with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the third quarter, but then the Wave scored 14 straight points to make it 58-37 and then added to that in a 22-6 fourth quarter knockout punch.
“The third quarter was probably the best we’ve played all season,” Ghere said. “We had eight turnovers in the first half and none in the third quarter. “
So the win is in the books just in case Friday’s weather prevents other teams from playing.
“I’m glad we did,” Ghere said of the proactive schedule change. “We want to play them all and you get to this point in the season sometimes you can’t make them up. We just want to get some consistency. We found some referees, and Rantoul agreed to change it.”
The Wave’s next game is Tuesday at home against Paris.
“We want to use this as a confidence booster and turn over a new leaf, ” Wright said.
MATTOON: Thomas 6 6-6 18, Morton 2-0-6, Middleton 0 2-4 2, Compton 9 0-0 24, Wright 3 5-8 13, Faulkner Elliott 1 0-0 3, Bergstrom 0 2-2 2, Yardley 1 0-0 2, Bradbury 5 0-1 10. Totals 26 5-11 80.
3-point goals: Thomas 2, Morton 2, Compton 6, Wright 2, Faulkner Elliott 1.
Cooper Bergstrom scored 16 points, Jaylen Middleton 14 and Kobe Cardwell 12 as Mattoon held off Rantoul 54-50 in the junior varsity game.
Rantoul 8 9 8 25 – 50
Mattoon 22 8 10 14 – 54
MATTOON: Plummer 0 0-0 0, Carter Smith 2 4-4 8, Middleton 6 2-5 14, Wetzel 0 0-0 0, Caughran 0 0-0 0, Farmer 0 0-0 0, Cardwell 5 2-5 12, Bergstrom 5 4-6 16, Kirts 1 0-0 2, Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 12-22 54.
3-point goals: Bergstrom 2