By Mike Monahan
ARTHUR – Mattoon girls’ basketball defeated an undefeated, ranked team for the second time in three days, pulling way in the third quarter Saturday to cruise for a 61-36 victory over Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond, ranked No. 10 in Class 2A.
Including a 61-31 win over Lincoln, Mattoon has outscored its past three opponents by 181-102.
Mattoon needed more time to extend its lead Saturday, leading just 21-19 at halftime of the non-conference game.
“We made an adjustment at halftime and the girls came out and executed,” said Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt. “We pressed and fell back into a 2-3 zone.”
The Green Wave subsequently built their lead to 30-21 with 6:07 left in the third. Ahead 32-27 with 3:19 left, Mattoon went on a 21-5 run over the next 6:41 for a commanding 53-32 advantage with 4:20 remaining in the game.
“I assume they didn’t think they would go into halftime only up two,” said Arthur coach Mac Condill. “I felt really strong and that was great and that is a victory. But we have to play 32 minutes. We have not played a caliber team like that. It is great that they are on our schedule and it is exactly what we need to know (about) what the next step is in development.”
Mattoon’s pivotal run started with a 3-pointer by Mallory Ramage, who led the Green Wave with 16 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Chloe Pruitt made one free throw and a basket for a 38-27 lead. After a 3-pointer by Arthur’s Mallory Nichols, Pruitt scored the final four points of the quarter. Piper Sanders made a basket and Grace Conyers drained a 3-pointer. Lily Ghere’s basket made it 47-32 with 6:20 left and four straight free throws by Ramage made it 53-32 before a 3-pointer by Nichols ended ALAH’s scoring drought.
“Offensively, we were able to spread it out in the second half a little more,” said Aydt. “The girls did a nice job of attacking the basket, finding the open person. Give credit to Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. They are a great team.”
Arthur led once on a free throw by Claire Seal, 12-11 with 6:27 left in the first half. The rest of the second quarter saw three ties.
“You can’t have lapses,” said Condill. “The last possession of the first half when Ramage got to the left side, which is where we knew she would be, and had a nice little hesitation and got to eight feet and pulled up for a nice jumper. That was too easy. I said she would get her points. So let’s make sure we make her work for all of them. I think that kind of set the tone for the third quarter where things started getting easier for them.”
Pruitt and Ramage started the second half with baskets for a 25-19 lead.
“Offensively, in the second half the ball movement was a lot better,” said Aydt. “We reversed it and used both sides of the floor until we found an open shot.”
Ramage and Faith Niebrugge had four steals and four assists each for the Green Wave, while Alexa Miller had three steals and four assists for the Knights, who entered averaging just 29 points per game.
“We had 22 turnovers and that is too many,” said Condill. “They pressed and that is what they do. The press is supposed to speed you up and take you out of your game a little bit. They did that, but it was only two trips, but at that time your mentality kind of shifts and I think we saw it. We have to get tougher mentally and play a more physical game. They were more aggressive in the second half then we were.”
Arthur held Mattoon to just 8-of-32 shooting from the field in the first half. The Green Wave shot 14-of-25 in the second half and the defense held the Knights to 5-of-21.
Niebrugge scored 15 and Ghere added 12 points for the 7-1 Green Wave, winners of three straight.
“Niebrugge had an outstanding game for us on both ends of the floor,” said Aydt. “She was everywhere on defense , creating steals, deflections and getting rebounds. Offensively, she did a great job of attacking the basket and looking for her shot. Ghere hit a couple of outside shots and also ran the floor and got some layups in transition.”
Arthur won its first nine games in last year’s COVID-19 shortened season. “We are going to learn from the loss,” said Condill. “I thought it was a nice competitive ball game and a good representation of girls’ basketball.”
Nearly 19 years ago, Aydt scored a then Oakland High record 42 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a 64-36 win over Arthur on the same gym floor that the game was played on Jan. 14, 2003.
“It has been a long time since in this gym, and it does bring back memories,” said Aydt, who thinks it is the only gym Mattoon has played in during her coaching years that she also played in.
Mattoon returns to Apollo Conference action Tuesday against visiting Taylorville.
After two close losses, Mattoon’s junior varsity recorded its first win in a big way. The Green Wave scored 22 points in the first quarter, which was more than Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond had the entire in a 66-17 rout.
The Green Wave hit 12 3-pointers, including six by Ella Conyers, who scored 20 points. Emily Maple added 19 and Piper Sanders had 10.
MATTOON: Ghere 4 2-4 12, Pruitt 2 1-2 5, Niebrugge 6 3-4 15, Ramage 5 5-5 16, Farmer 1 0-0 2, Sanders 1 0-0 2, Jurka 1 1-2 3, Conyers 2 0-0 6, Sewell 0 0-0 0, Totals 22 12-17 61. 3-point goals: Mattoon 5-20, (Ghere 2, Conyers 2, Ramage 1). Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 4-12 (Nichols 2, Shaylie Miller 2) .Rebounds: Mattoon 39 (Ramage 10), Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 32 (Condill 8). Turnovers: Mattoon 13, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 22. Shooting percentage: Mattoon 22-57 (386). Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 12-42 (.293)
MATTOON: Wade 1 0-0 2, Masse 3 0-0 8, Sanders 5 0-0 10, Powers 2 0-2 5, Maple 8 0-0 19, Lathrop 0 0-0 0, Conyers 8 0-0 20, Sewell 0 0-0 0, Otto 1 0-0 2, Totals 28 0-2 66. 3-point goals: Mattoon 12 (Masse 2, Powers 1, Maple 3, Conyers 6).