Effingham has enjoyed a nine-day layoff since last playing. Their last opponent? The Mattoon Green Wave, who own a third-place victory over them at the Effingham St. Anthony Thanksgiving Tournament. Could the long layoff help or hurt the Hearts as they open up their Apollo Conference season with a trip to MHS Gym?

Here is the preview of tonight’s (Tuesday) game. 

Team Records: Mattoon (4-2, 1-1) vs. Effingham (2-2, 0-0)

Where: Mattoon High School

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Mattoon High School

School Size: Mattoon (930), Effingham (736)

JV Tip-Off: 6:00 p.m.

Varsity Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.

Opponent’s History: In 108 years of playing basketball, the Hearts own a 1,621-1,192 record. The Hearts have traditionally been a basketball school with rich history and it didn’t change last year when the team won the Apollo Conference in the COVID-19 shortened season. Obie Farmer enters his third full season as the coach. In 2018-2019, Farmer-led Effingham to a 17-2 record after taking over for Rem Woodruff, who was dismissed midseason. He followed that up an 18-13 record and then last year’s 17-1 mark which included no state series. Before Effingham, Farmer was a former coach at Martinsville. 

Effingham’s Past Results: At the Thanksgiving Tournament, Effingham lost to Breese Central 37-35, but defeated Robinson 62-54 and St. Anthony 48-30 to set up the third-place game with Mattoon. The Green Wave came out victorious 54-40. Effingham hasn’t played in nine days.

“We need to shoot better,” said head coach Obie Farmer. “Couldn’t throw it in the ocean that game and that’s not characteristic of us. We didn’t play very tough that game but usually do. Tired legs after 4 games in a row, but it can’t be an excuse.”

Effingham’s Top Players: The Hearts lost three All-Apollo selections due to graduation, which included First-Team selections by Parker Wolfe and Nathan Thompson. Leading the team this year is Garrett Wolfe, a 5-foot-10 junior who made the All-Tournament Team at the Thanksgiving tourney. Jett Volpi, a senior, tied Wolfe for most points against Mattoon with 14. Brayden Pals, a 6-foot-5 senior, appears to be their tallest player. 

Effingham’s Team Stats:  The Hearts are averaging 46.5 points per game and allowing 43.7 points per game. 

“We are very balanced,” said Farmer. “We have had five or six different players in double figures already in our short season.”

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon is coming off a 50-29 loss on the road at Lincoln. This came two days after Mattoon defeated Mahomet-Seymour 35-33 on the road as well. Blaine Powers led the Green Wave with 11 points in the win. 

“We are going to have to shoot better than we have the last two games,” said Ghere. “Effingham hasn’t played since we played them at the tournament, so they have had nine days to get ready for this game.  We had a good inside game at Lincoln on Saturday, but our perimeter players struggled.”  

Mattoon’s Team Stats: Mattoon’s 21-point loss was their largest margin of loss this season. The 50 points were also the most points the team’s defense has allowed this season. 

What Effingham Said: “They are big and athletic,” said Farmer. “The hit open shots. In high school, if you can hit the open ones, you become very dangerous. They have one of the biggest players in the state and he’s a load to handle under the basket.”

What Mattoon Said: “For us to win tomorrow, we need to have a balanced attack,” said Ghere. “We also need to rebound.  We did that much better in the second half last time we played Effingham.  We need to keep the Wolfe kid in check.  We cannot let him have open shots.  After the loss to Lincoln on Saturday, we just need to bounce back and play well.  It will be nice to play our first home game as well.”