Ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A, the Green Wave will try and look past their near-upset scare on Tuesday and take on another lowly Apollo team. With sights on what Taylorville did early in the game, Mt. Zion will try to replicate with upset in mind. 

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

Team Records: Mattoon (8-1, 3-0) @ Mt. Zion (4-10, 1-3)

Where: Mt. Zion High School

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Mt. Zion High School

School Size: Mattoon (930), Mt. Zion (763)

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

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

Opponent’s History: Steve Marvel enters his first year as the head coach of the girl’s basketball team. Last year, Mt. Zion finished the season 2-13. Mt. Zion’s hasn’t posted its season results on IHSA since 2002-2003, so there are no records. However, the team last won a Regional Championship in 2019-2020 under Shane Davis. 

“With a change in head coaches and a change in program philosophy, we’ve had some growing and adjustment pains, but are starting to progress and adjust to the new style of play,” said Marvel. “It’s a process and we just hope to keep improving so we hit our stride in mid-January. Our defensive effort has been getting better as well and it is something I want to have as a foundation of our program.”

Mt. Zion’s Past Results: The Braves began the season with a 20-point win over Decatur Eisenhower, but then stumbled to six straight losses – to Hillsboro, Bethalto Civic Memorial, Rochester, Taylorville, and Jacksonville. The team’s lone conference win is a 44-33 victory over Charleston. After that, the team lost to Mahomet-Seymour 78-19 and Lincoln 53-16. Their other losses include Pana, Clinton, and Monticello, while their wins include Central A&M and Maroa-Forsyth. 

Mt. Zion’s Top Players: Mt. Zion is led by First-Team All-Conference sophomore guard Denver Anderson, who leads the team in scoring with a 22.0 point average. Other players include senior guard Abby Scharf, junior center Bracie Barners, and junior forward Kalliana Becker, who is coming off a 20-point scoring effort against Maroa Forsyth. 

Mt. Zion’s Team Stats:  Mt. Zion is averaging 34.2 points per game and allowing 48.5 points per game. 

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon nearly lost to underdog Taylorville on Tuesday. The team trailed by six points with less than 1:17 left to play, which included trailing by one point with four seconds to play. However, the team was able to pull away 49-48 to remain undefeated in the Apollo Conference. 

Mattoon’s Team Stats: With four seconds to play, senior guard Mallory Ramage attempted a game-winning layup but was fouled on the attempt, which set up two free throws. Ramage drained both free throws to give Mattoon the win. Ramage scored 19 points and Chloe Pruitt added 11. 

What Mt. Zion Said: “Mattoon presents multiple problems,” said Marvel. “One, they are experienced and know how to win. Just knowing how to win is so important at any level and is huge at the HS level. Two, they have Mallory Ramage. Mallory is an outstanding player and leader. Her presence on the court just adds to the challenges of what we want to do on both ends of the court. Mallory makes everyone around her better and she has a very good supporting cast on top of it. We look forward to the challenge of facing such an excellent program and player.”

What Mattoon Said: “Everyone on our team has to do their job for us to be successful,” said coach Amanda Aydt. “The players understand their roles and always try their best.  They do a tremendous job of passing the ball and finding the open person Everyone on the floor can shoot the ball. I’m very blessed to be able to coach this amazing group of players. They are all-around great young ladies on and off the court.”