Due to the cancellation of last week’s game against Lincoln, the Trojans have not played since December 7th. With a game on the road, some rust to shake, this could be a tough matchup for Charleston. On a positive note, head coach Cody Drone will be back on the sidelines after being gone due to quarantine. Effingham is searching for their first Apollo Conference win. 

Here’s a preview of tonight’s game. 

Team Records: Charleston (6-2, 3-0) @  Effingham (2-5, 0-2)

Where: Effingham High School 

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Effingham High School

School Size: Charleston (796), 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. Effingham went nine days without playing, but then lost two straight conference games, a 46-35 loss to Mahomet-Seymour and a 64-24 loss to Mattoon. Recently, Effingham lost to Centralia 42-29. 

“Their well-disciplined and play very physical,” said Drone. “Coach Farmer always has his guys playing hard so matching their intensity on Thursday night will be key. It will be a tough test for us on the road by our team is ready for the challenge.”

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. 

“Garret Wolfe is a solid player that can shoot and drive,” said Drone. “Containing him is a priority Thursday night. Pals is a great rim protector for them. Using pump fakes and finishing strong at the rim is something we will look to improve on this Thursday.”

Effingham’s Team Stats: Effingham is averaging 39.0 points per game and allowing 46.7 points per game. 

Charleston’s Past Results: Charleston has been on a roll in the Apollo as of late. Charleston opened the conference season with a 71-51 win over Mount Zion last Thursday. Then, the team defeated Taylorville 65-47 on the road. In their last game, the Trojans narrowly defeated Mahomet-Seymour 42-41 at home. 

Charleston’s Team Stats: Charleston is averaging 59.1 points per game and allowing 57.2 points per game. Grady Smitley hit the game-winning shot with 10.1 seconds left to upset the Bulldogs. Smitley scored seven points altogether, while William Applegate added nine points to complement Jaksen Braun (14 points) and Caleb Oakley (12 points). 

What Effingham  Said: Coach did not respond to comment. 

What Charleston Said: “Any win in the tough Apollo conference is awesome, but currently our focus is on preparing and being mentally and physically ready for Thursday night,” said Drone. “Our coaching staff and teamwork hard to put in the work and focus on the job at hand. If we execute our game plan and play as we can play, we will have success. Our effort and the Charleston brand of basketball we’re creating needs to be there night in and night out for us to keep improving this season.”