By Chet Piotrowski
Sometimes, a loss can be a win.
At the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic, Charleston found itself in another hole, trailing by 13 points early in the third quarter to Champaign Centennial.
They almost got out of it, too. But a 3-point attempt by William Applegate in the final minute rimmed out, giving Centennial a 57-51 victory Wednesday evening.
“We did play the post a lot better today,” Charleston coach Cody Drone said. “I think last night was just … Newton’s a good team. Tonight, we just overall played better. We played with leadership. We played with our hearts. I’m happy with how they played. I know we didn’t win, but, man, it was a step in the right direction.”
Charleston will face Mattoon for 11th place at 11:30 this morning in the Effingham High School main gym.
“We played a solid game,” Drone said. “That’s a good team we played. Centennial hit shots that they hadn’t hit all game. We got the best punch from them, and we threw it right back at them. We missed a shot there at the end. We had one shot. It looked good from my angle. It was in rhythm. I’d take that shot in that same exact spot again. We got the look we wanted; it just didn’t go.”
The Trojans had put themselves in position for the possible comeback-win by going on a 13-2 run in the third quarter, holding the Chargers to just a bucket by Centennial’s Jack Young to move within 41-39 entering the fourth quarter.
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The teams traded points for 6 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. Charleston’s Jaksen Braun arced a 3-pointer from the far baseline that swished through the net, tying the score at 51 with about 1 1/2 minutes left in the game. Centennial coach Tim Lavin promptly called a timeout, whereby the Trojans bench erupted and Braun received chest bumps from his teammates.
Centennial’s Trae Warren, though, hit a running floater in the lane after the break, putting the Chargers ahead by two – setting up Applegate’s shot with CHS trailing 53-51. The 6-foot-2 junior took the pass just behind the arc in front of the CHS bench, lined up the shot and lofted it toward the hoop. But it rimmed out.
Applegate took another 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining, but a Champaign defender managed to tip the ball and redirect the shot.
“I missed the big shot at the end,” Applegate said. “We were down two and missed the 3. They came back down and hit another shot to start to pull away. That right there is what kind of got us one shot away. Sometimes you hit it; sometimes you don’t.”
“It was a good look; it just happened,” he shrugged.
Applegate said the team knew it had to put a better effort into Wednesday’s games. Earlier in the day, Charleston had defeatedLutheran North, 62-51.
“We knew we lost to Newton twice,” he said. “We knew we had to come back and play harder. We just bounced back and didn’t let that loss (to Newton) bring us down.”
Drone said his squad can play with anyone, if they believe they can.
“We just focused on ourselves,” he said. “We can play with anybody. This team can play with anybody. We’re athletic, we’re quick. It’s just having that mental fortitude to match that physicalness. I was really happy that we did match their physical style of play tonight.”
Drone, in his first year coaching Charleston High, says his team will be ready for a Coles County rivalry game, even if it is played in Effingham County on Thursday morning.
“I’m excited,” Drone said. “I haven’t seen that Mattoon/Charleston rivalry. I know it’s a crazy one. I hear it from our school all the time ‘You can’t lose to Mattoon, you can’t lose to Mattoon’ and, my gosh, we’re going to give it our all tomorrow.”
CHARLESTON: Dunklin 2 0-0 6, Smitley 1 0-0 2, Applegate 4 1-2 12, Burgess 2 0-0 5, Becker 1 0-0 2, Braun 5 2-3 13, Oakley 4 0-0 11. Totals: 19 3-6 51. 3-pointers: Dunklin 2, Applegate 3, Burgess 1, Braun 1, Oakley 3.
CENTENNIAL: Warren 5 4-4 15, Hubbard 5 3-3 12, Simmons 4 1-1 12, Coleman 2 1-1 6, Young 4 1-1 9, Davis 1 0-0 3. Totals: 20 9-10 57. 3-pointers: Warren 1, Hubbard 1, Simmons 4, Coleman 1, Davis 1.