The Mattoon varsity boys basketball team overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to earn a conference win at Mahomet in a low-scoring Apollo opener Thursday night, 35-33.
Charleston, meanwhile, exploded for three straight 20-point quarters after brushing aside a four-point opening quarter deficit in a 71-51 over Mt. Zion in another conference opener.
Mattoon trailed 22-15 at halftime to a Mahomet squad several coaches tabbed as the preseason Apollo favorite. Both Jaylen Middleton and Sam Bradbury, in foul trouble early, spent a great deal of the first half on the bench while a smaller lineup consisting of five guards kept the score close.
Bradbury picked up his fourth foul two minutes into the third quarter. But Christian Larson came off the bench to hit the Green Wave’s only 3-pointer of the game to change the momentum.
“Points were difficult to find throughout the game,” MHS coach Ryan Ghere said.
But Mattoon (4-1) used a stifling 2-3 zone to slowly get back into the game, allowing only 11 points in the second half.
Blaine Powers, who led all scorers with 11 points, scored a pair of driving layups in the fourth quarter to give Mattoon its first lead of the game with just three minutes remaining.
Mahomet regained the lead on a 3-pointer with 1:30 left.
Mattoon then passed the ball into the post to Bradbury, who scored his 10th point for a 35-33 Green Wave lead.
Mahomet had possession for the last 50 seconds of the game, but was never allowed a shot to tie the score, twice calling timeouts. Mattoon’s Cooper Bergstom, Gage Thompson and Middleton accounted for multiple tipped passes, steals, and blocks throughout the game.
The Green Wave travel to take on Lincoln on Saturday night.
Charleston assistant coach A.J. Alexander credits his players’ shot selection as the primary reason the Trojans topped Mt. Zion a week after falling to the Braves 64-44 in the Paris Thanksgiving tournament. Mt. Zion had outscored CHS 25-10 in the fourth quarter of that game.
It was Charleston (4-2) posting 20-point quarters Thursday night, starting with a 20-9 edge in the second that gave the Trojans a 29-22 lead.
“We forced a lot in the first game where this game our offense focused on great looks from inside the paint, which opened up kick outs,” Alexander said.
CHS coach Cody Drone is out for about two weeks.
William Applegate scored a team-high 21 points, Jaksen Braun added 19 and Caleb Oakley scored 15 on 8-of-10 free-throw shooting. The Trojans made 22 of 26 FTs overall.
Mattoon 35 Mahomet 33
MATTOON: Bergstrom 1 2-3 4, Middleton 1 0-0 2, Powers 3 5-6 11, Larson 2 2-2 7, Thompson 0 1-3 1, Bradbury 3 4-6 10. Totals 10 14-20 35. 3-pointer – Larson.
Charleston 71, Mt Zion 51
CHARLESTON: Smitley 3 2-2 9, Pankey 1 1-2 3, Bonstetter 0 2-2-2, Applegate 6 7-7 21, Becker 1 0-0 2, Braun 8 2-3 19, Oakley 3 8-10 15. Totals 22 22-26 71. 3-pointers – Applegate 2, Braun 1, Oakley 1, Smitley 1.