Sam Bradbury is missed.
The 6-foot-8 senior center for the Green Wave missed the entire Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic with an undisclosed medical issue. His presence was missed on the third day of action when Mattoon finished the tourney 1-3 by dropping a 53-47 contest to Charleston.
“It was kind of a microcosm of the whole tournament with us having trouble putting the ball in the basket,” said Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere. “I don’t think people realize how big a difference Sam makes beyond the court. He opens up everything because people are double- and triple-teaming him. We are drawing tougher shots because he’s not there to draw those double or triple teams.”
Jaylen Middleton, another top offensive option for the Green Wave, was held scoreless, while Cooper Bergstrom was limited to one field goal. The Trojans held Mattoon to only four points in the first quarter with what was a game-time defensive shift during the pregame talks.
“Early on, the defense was really solid,” said Drone. “We talked about switching up our defense before the game. We played some 1-3-1 and got some traps that caused some turnovers. That allowed us to get some early runouts. We were definitely in control until the second quarter rolled around. Then, our shots went flat, but we battled the whole way.”
Charleston led 10-4 in the first quarter thanks to eight first-quarter points from Caleb Oakley. Oakley scored 11 of his game-high 14 points in the first half, which helped the team get over a bad second quarter that allowed the Green Wave to climb back into the game by trailing only 18-16 at halftime.
“Teammates did a good job of finding me when I was open,” said Oakley. “The shots were falling and I felt really good in the first quarter.”
Oakley was held to just one field goal in the second half, but William Applegate picked up the slack. Applegate tied Oakley for a game-high 14 points by scoring all his points in the second half.
Charleston fended off the Green Wave by stretching the lead to 35-27 at the end of the third quarter. Both teams erupted offensively in the fourth with both teams scoring over 20 points each. However, the Green Wave never got closer than five points, while Charleston made 10 of 15 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter alone.
“Applegate in the second half and Oakley in the first says it all,” said Drone. “Caleb hit some big shots driving to the rim and hit some big three pointers. William in the fourth was making some great drives to the basket and getting to the free throw line. He then did a great job of making them put it away.”
Applegate led the Trojans from the line by connecting on five of seven attempts.
“Will did a great job of getting to the line in the fourth quarter,” said Oakley. “He was able to play his game in the second half. He came up big by getting to the line and hitting the free throws.”
Ghere said that the Trojans were clutch the entire game. From clutch shooting to capitalizing on “too many turnovers,” Ghere said the Green Wave were never able to get over the hump.
“Every time the game got close, they found a way to hit a 3-ball,” said Ghere. “They found the open man in the corner multiple times. One time, we thought we had a defensive rebound that got away from us, and then they passed to the open guy who knocked down a three. They just hit so many clutch threes that just kept us down five or seven the whole game.”
The win clinched 11th place for Charleston, who finished 2-2 in the tournament. The team enters 2022 with a 10-5 record and has Drone feeling good about the team’s future.
“We played three solid games,” said Drone. “Lutheran North was a solid game. We missed a shot in the end and were right there with a really good Champaign Centennial team. Then, we had a great team effort in this one. The one you want to get back is Newton, but I like where we are at right now. We just need to keep moving forward and keep moving in the right direction.”
As for Mattoon, the team is hoping that they can get fully healthy and back to full conditioning. The Green Wave finished 1-3 in the tournament and are now 7-6 overall. If there was a positive, Ghere was happy that the team’s bench got a load of experience, which he sees being a positive the next two months.
“I think it was tough to come back from 14 days off,” said Ghere. “Quarantine threw us through a loop, but we got better as the tournament went on. I think the biggest thing was that we had to use our bench a lot more. Jack Helms and Taeriek Grace played some big minutes for us. Some guys have some opportunities to play, but I think they are going to appreciate it when Sam gets back.”
Chicago Brooks finished a perfect 4-0 and capped an undefeated Christmas Classic by defeating Lincoln Way-East 53-46 in the championship game. Oak Lawn won third place over Newton 50-34. Here are the rest of the scores.
15th Place: Pleasant Plains def. Belvidere 53-44
13th Place: Lutheran North def. Chicago Horizon SW 70-45
11th Place: Charleston def. Mattoon 53-47
7th/8th: Knoxville def. St. Anthony 48-43
5th Place: Teutopolis def. Effingham 58-47
Consolation Championship: Champaign Centennial def. Dixon 68-60
3rd Place: Oak Lawn def. Newton 50-34
Championship: Chicago Brooks def. Lincoln-Way East 53-46
Zach Powell – Pleasant Plains
Kyle Stewart – St. Anthony
David Hise – Knoxville
Jerrett Moore – Chicago Brooks
Anthony Vaval – Chicago Brooks
John McGowan – Oak Lawn
Davion Lawrence – Oak Lawn
Tylon Tolliver – Lincoln-Way East
George Bellevue – Lincoln-Way East
Evan Schafer – Newton
Ben Meinhart – Newton
Garrett Wolfe – Effingham
Caleb Siemer – Teutopolis
David Hubbard – Champaign Centennial
Jacob Gaither – Dixon
Mattoon vs. Charleston Box Score
Mattoon 4 12 11 20 – 47
Charleston 10 8 17 22 – 53
MATTOON: Bergstrom 1-7-9, Boyer 1-0-2, Middleton 0-0-0, Powers 3-4-11, Gardner 1-0-2, Larson 4-4-12, Grace 3-0-6, Totals 13-15-46.
CHARLESTON: Smitley 0-1-1, Pankey 2-0-5, Applegate 3-7-14, Burgess 3-1-7, Barker 2-0-5, Braun 2-3-7, Oakley 5-1-14, Totals 17-13-57.