Mattoon’s Mallory Ramage scored 21 points Monday night. (Photo/ Krista Lewin, MUSD2)
By Brian Nielsen
Citing school policy, Mattoon girls’ basketball coach Amanda Aydt said she could not say why Delainey Bryant was not with her team Monday night.
Even if the athlete is just sick, coaches are not allowed to give a reason.
Asked to say how much her Green Wave missed Bryant in Monday’s 60-37 non-conference loss to Olney two days after the junior had scored a career-high 27 points in a win over Charleston, Aydt was mum as well.
“Any time you,” the coach started but then stopped.
After some thoughtful moments Aydt politely said, “Let’s come back to that one.”
She never did.
Her Green Wave also never found an answer for Olney’s Anna Blank either.
Drew a Blank, you could say.
Facing a box-and-one and other defenses and several different defenders, Blank erupted for a season-high 33 points leading Olney past a Mattoon team that beat the Tigers 54-49 in December’s championship game in the Mattoon Holiday Tournament.
The sophomore guard’s two free throws with 1:44 remaining gave her 1,000 points in her high school career.
Ironically, Mattoon sophomore Mallory Ramage, who teams with Blank on the Indiana Elite Havoc travel team during the off-season, reached 1,000 points in her high school career in the Wave’s December win over Olney when, ironically enough, she also had 33 points.
This time, Ramage finished with 21 points, just off the 21.6 average she took into this rematch between two teams that were both 21-4 entering the game.
Ramage got those 21 while being the focal point of Olney’s defense.
Asked if Bryant’s absence changed his defensive plan, Olney coach Mark Anselment said: “Our radio guy told me about that, but I looked back and she really didn’t hurt us last time. Obviously, when you have a scorer out it might facilitate things for them, but we had to stop Ramage.”
While Bryant had other good games to land a spot on the all-tournament team in December, she managed just two points in the win over Olney.
But this time Olney did not let Ramage again erupt for 33.
Mattoon got a little help with Hallie Niemerg as its next high scorer with eight points.
Until Anna Jurka’s two free throws with 1:35 to play, Blank by herself had matched the Wave’s 33-point total.
“We had too many turnovers and our shots weren’t falling,” Aydt said. “The girls played hard the whole game.”
This wasn’t always a rout.
In fact, a 10-0 run in the last 3:30 of the first quarter gave Mattoon a 15-12 lead.
The Wave led 23-19 before Blank, moving from the perimeter in a two-point first quarter to inside, converted a three-point play after making a free throw following a basket.
“It worked for a while,” Aydt said of her team’s defense. “We tried to switch things up.”
But by halftime, Olney had grabbed a 28-23 lead with Blank edging Ramage 16-13 in the showdown of super sophs.
Ramage managed three points in the third quarter, Mattoon’s only points of a period in which it went scoreless the last 5:58 during which Olney scored 11 straight to increase its lead to 41-26.
“They made shots,” Aydt said “You have to give them credit.”
Olney made its point avenging the earlier loss.
“Everybody wants to be better later than earlier,” Anselment said pointing out Haven Doll was slowed by an ankle injury and Kenzie Weiler by illness in the holiday tournament title game.
This time, Mattoon was short-handed.
“We just have to learn from this one and move on,” Aydt said.
That chance comes Tuesday night when Mattoon (21-5) is to play host to St. Joseph-Ogden in the make-up of an earlier postponement.
MATTOON: Haacke 0 0-0 0, Greeson 0 0-0 0, Gil 0 0-0 0, Sapp 1 0-0 2, Pruitt 0 0-0 0, Jurka 0 2-2 2, Niebrugge 1 0-0 2, Ramage 8 4-11 21, Niemerg 3 2-2 8 Halderson 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 8-15 37
3-point goal: Ramage 1
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