Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
An inauspicious start for Mattoon against Knoxville in the first session of the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic left them in a hole the Green Wave didn’t recover in a 48-39 defeat Tuesday evening.
Mattoon goes into the consolation bracket and plays Horizon SW today at Effingham High School this morning at 9.
Mattoon’s Cooper Bergstrom nailed a 3-pointer putting the Green Wave on the scoreboard first, but Knoxville went 10-0 run as Mattoon couldn’t make a basket.
“I didn’t think our defense was very good either. You know we just didn’t put forth a very good effort tonight,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “I thought we had a good plan coming in. Obviously we didn’t have them ready. We didn’t shoot very well. We missed a lot of layups. We gave up a lot of layups and didn’t knock down any threes when we were open. You’re not going to win very many basketball games when you don’t play defense and can’t score.”
Playing without center Sam Bradbury who is day-to-day, the Green Wave depended on hitting from the perimeter, but shot just 17 percent on 5 of 29 attempts.
“We knew they were going to play that zone,” Ghere said. “We wanted to get the ball to the rim. We just chose not to. We sold out to threes when we could have better shots and didn’t do a good job executing of what we wanted to execute.”
Mattoon’s Jaylen Middleton, who made one of eight field-goal attempts, said there wasn’t any excuses to miss as many layups as the Green Wave had.
“I don’t want to say it’s one of those days to make any excuses, but we were off 14 days due to quarantine,” he said. “That’s no excuse for missing as many layups as we did. Not having the big man as well. We usually have him for those putbacks and small things like that. It’s definitely a wake-up call. We want to go 3-1 the rest of the way.”
Middleton said the team’s goal now is finish the rest of the tournament with 3 wins.
“We’re going to learn from the mistakes we made and bounce back and definitely go 3-1 for the week and we’ll be happier.”
The Green Wave cut a 28-18 halftime lead down to five points late in the third quarter, but Knoxville’s David Hise, who led all scorers with 20 points, hit a free throw and Braden Downs drained a bucket to extend their lead back to eight as the third quarter ended.
Mattoon’s Cooper Bergstrom tried to carry the Green Wave back with eight fourth-quarter points, but their aggressive defense found starters Jaylen Middleton and Christian Larson foul out a minute apart late in the fourth quarter.
“We had four stops in a row in the fourth quarter and didn’t get anything for it,” Ghere said. “We missed layups, runners, and jump shots and then we turned the ball over way to man times today.”
MATTOON – Bergstrom 4 4-4 13, Helms 1 0-0 3, Middleton 1 0-0 2, Powers 4 0-0 9, Larson 2 0-1 4, Thompson 1 0-0 3, Wetzel 2 0-0 5, Totals: 15 5-6 39. 3-Pointers: Bergstrom 1, Helms 1, Powers 1, Thompson 1, Wetzel 1.
KNOXVILLE – Downs 6 1-2 13, McClay1 4-6 6, Hise 7 5-8 20, Fleisher 3 0-1 9, Tucker 0 0-2 0. Totals: 17 10-18 48. 3-pointers: Hise 1, Fleisher 3.