Mallory Ramage and Delainey Bryant combined to score 25 second-half points and to make 10 straight free-throws in the fourth quarter that secured a 59-46 win over Mt. Zion and the Green Wave’s first conference title since 2017.
Mattoon finished the season 12-0 in the Apollo, handing the Braves their only two conference losses. The Green Wave had posted a 50-35 win over Mt. Zion in mid-January.
“I am so proud of our girls for going undefeated in the conference,” Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt said. “It is very difficult to accomplish. All of their hard work paid off. It was a great team win. We played hard the entire game.”
The teams battled to a halftime tie, 21-21, before Mattoon slowly edged ahead in the third quarter. Ahead 38-34 entering the fourth quarter, the Green Wave outscored Mt. Zion 21-12, thanks, in part, to some excellent free-throw shooting.
Bryant converted all six of her attempts in the final quarter, along with two field goals. Ramage made all four of her free-throws as well.
Meanwhile, the entire team applied even more pressure, which yielded several turnovers. Plus, Jordan Sapp made two layups down the stretch.
Ramage finished with a game-high 20 points, snagged nine rebounds and recorded four steals. Bryant scored 15 points and five rebounds.
“Mallory Ramage had an all-around great game,” said Aydt. “Hallie Niemerg had a complete game. Delainey Bryant played well on offense and defense.”
Mattoon (25-5) next travels to Centralia where it earned a first-round bye in the regional tournament. The Green Wave are the top-ranked team in the Class 3A girls basketball regional and are the second-ranked team, behind Olney, in its sub-sectional.
Mattoon will play the winner between Marion and Carbondale at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. A victory would pit Mattoon against the winner between Centralia and Herrin in the regional title game next Thursday.
MATTOON: Ramage 5 8-8 20, Bryant 4 6-6 15, Sapp 3 0-0 6, Niemerg 6 0-0 13, Niebrugge 1 1-2 3, Haacke 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 15-16 59. 3-pointers – Ramage 2, Bryant 1, Niemerg 1. Rebounds – Ramage 9, Bryant 5, Niebrugge 4, Niemerg 4. Steals – Ramage 4, Niemerg 2. Blocks – Niemerg 2.