By Kyle Daubs
The two-week layoff has appeared to have taken a toll.
On Wednesday, Mattoon was able to hold on for a 51-47 win over Charleston.
“It was ugly both ways,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere told Chet Piotrowski after the game. “It looked like a bunch of tired kids out there. They fought their way through it and made enough plays down the stretch.” Said Ghere: “Give our boys credit. It wasn’t always pretty, but they found a way to knock down some big shots.”
Said Ghere: “Give our boys credit. It wasn’t always pretty, but they found a way to knock down some big shots.”
After a 50-35 loss to Lincoln on Monday, Mattoon stands 2-2 overall for the season. Tonight, the Green Wave face another tough test in Teutopolis, which brings a 2-3 conference record.
Teutopolis has beaten Mount Zion and Taylorville and lost to both Effingham and Lincoln in the Apollo. Knowing that his team could be out of Apollo Conference contention, Teutopolis coach Chet Reeder acknowledged that continuing to stay motivated will be a challenge, especially during a season with neither fans nor a state series.
“Every team faces adversity at times during the season and we are no different,” said Reeder. “We just have to continue to work in practice and keep striving to get better each day.”
Teutopolis (5-3) has also beaten non-conference foes Lawrenceville, Okaw Valley and Meridian. The Wooden Shoes feature 6-foot-4 senior Evan Wermert, who was the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and Most Outstanding Player last season. Seniors Jordan Hardiek, Mathew Deters, and Evan Addis round out the four seniors.
Mattoon is coming off a balanced scoring effort in their win over Charleston a few days ago. Cam’Ron Thomas and Cooper Bergstrom finished with 12 points apiece, while Jaylen Middleton added 10 points. All-Apollo center Sam Bradbury, who added seven points, is a focus on T-Town’s scouting report.
“Mattoon is very athletic and has a very physical post,” said Reeder. “They can score in bunches. We need to make sure we rebound and make smart decisions with the ball.”
Charleston travels to Lincoln
Charleston fell to 2-2 after the loss to Mattoon and now faces a tough Lincoln squad trying to stay relevant in the Apollo title chase.
Lincoln fell to 5-2 after a 60-55 loss to Mahomet-Seymour last Friday.
Not sure that anything can truly be extrapolated from this, but here’s how much conference games have fluctuated:
• Lincoln beat Mattoon, 50-35
• Mahomet beat Lincoln, 60-55.
• Mattoon beat Mahomet, 69-58.
• And Mattoon beat Charleston, 51-47.
More so than in recent years, there are fewer sure bets in this odd, abbreviated Apollo season.
“We had a game after the two-week layoff last night against Mt. Zion and thought the kids battled and competed,” Oakley said after the game earlier this week. “Things didn’t always go our way with some missed shots and a bounce here and bounce there. It’s the way it goes. It’s sports. I thought our kids played hard.”
Oakley, of course, is hoping for the kind of strong performance the Trojans offered in their victory over Mt. Zion when Jackson Burgess nailed seven 3s and scored 25 overall. Jaksen Braun had 12 on Wednesday in the loss to Mattoon.
“Lincoln is as disciplined as a team with several skilled players,” said Oakley. “We need to take care of the ball against their ball press and have a good shot selection.”