By Blake Faith
Senior Dalton Compton rallied the Green Wave in his last home game, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter to move Mattoon within one point entering the final quarter.
But the departure of a key player and a flurry of scoring from Effingham juniors Parker Wolfe, Max Woelfer and Nate Thompson, who combined to score 16 points in the fourth quarter, handed Mattoon the Apollo Conference loss, 69-58.
Mattoon’s rally began in the third quarter behind junior Cam’Ron Thomas, who made two free-throws and converted on a 3-pointer to bring the Green Wave within 34-31.
Compton then made a tip-layup, three 3-pointers, and he then used his athletic ability to finish inside to score his 12 points.
“I started off a little nervous, but I got in the flow of play,” Compton said. “Confidence was in my head (in the third quarter), and I was just shooting with confidence.”
Thomas exited the game midway through the third quarter and did not come back in. Thomas finished the game with 11 points.
“Dalton played well and he got better as the game went for us, but Cam’s our leading scorer,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “He’s our go-to guy and just to lose him at that time hurts. That’s why you have a team and someone stepped up.”
Effingham outscored Mattoon 20-10 in the fourth quarter. The Flaming Hearts relied Woelfer and Thompson, who made three 3-pointers and the finishing ability of Thompson. Thompson drove the ball inside for two layups in the fourth quarter.
The Flaming Hearts relied on Wolfe to end Compton’s rally. Compton made a three-pointer to tie the game at 46-46. The Green Wave converted on a Jaylen Middleton layup, but Wolfe made another three-pointer to give the Flaming Hearts a 49-48 third quarter lead. Wolfe finished the game with a game-high 24 points.
“We just never got over the hump,” Ghere said. “We tied them a couple times, but we could never get that stop when we needed one. The Wolfe kid had a heckuva game and he was sick. He came out and lit it up on us.”
In the first quarter, the Green Wave fell behind 24-13. Wolfe suffered an injury scare early in the first quarter after landing awkwardly on his back. Wolfe battled through it by making three 3-pointers along with a mid-range jumper and layup to score 11 first-quarter points for the Flaming Hearts.
“It’s something that Parker does all the time, and he’s a tough kid,” Effingham coach Obie Farmer said. “The fact that he got dinged and he went to do whatever he had to do to get ready to come back out and play just speaks volumes to his character and toughness. That’s who Parker is and that’s what we expect.”
The Green Wave responded in the second quarter behind the play of senior Mason Wright and junior Thomas. Thomas started the second quarter by making a 3-pointer to bring the Green Wave within 24-16. The Flaming hearts responded with a 7-0 run to make it 31-16.
Wright ended the run with a 3-pointer and made another 3-pointer along with a pair of Thomas layups for the Green Wave. Their play created a 7-0 run and brought the Green Wave to within 31-26.
Effingham focused on sophomore Sam Bradbury, sending double teams and making sure he was tightly guarded every time he touched the ball. Bradbury finished the game with five points,i mean rgis adds up to all coming in the first quarter.
“He’s a really tough post player and we know we couldn’t stop him with just one person so we had to send extra help,” Farmer said. “We gotta harass their ball handlers and post players, because they’re too good for us to stop one on one.”
Effingham improves to 18-11 and 6-5 in conference play. Their next game will be on Tuesday against Marion High School.
“Anytime we get a win in the Apollo Conference, it’s a big game for us,” Farmer said. “It’s always a momentum booster when we get an Apollo win.”
Mattoon falls to 11-16 and 3-8 in conference play. Mattoon will play Olney on Tuesday.
“We gotta move on,” Ghere said. “It’s senior night. I get that, but it’s one of 30 games that we get to play. We just gotta regroup over this weekend and be ready to go Monday.”
MATTOON: Thomas 4 2-2 12, Morton 1 1-2 4, Johnson 1 0-0 3, Compton 7 2-2 18, Wright 3 0-0 8, Cardwell 1 0-0 3, Middleton 1 0-0 2, Yardley 1 0-3 2, Bradbury 2 2-4 6. Totals 21 7-11 58. 3-pointers: Thomas 2 Morton 1. Johnson 1, Compton 2, Wright 2, Cardwell 1.