Story by Joe Gisondi and photos by Dominic Baima
Mallory Ramage may have eclipsed 2,000 points in the second quarter Wednesday night, but it was her constant pressure and free throws down the stretch that enabled No. 1 Mattoon to defeat No. 11 Mahomet-Seymour, 48-43, for the second time in two days and earn the 42nd Mattoon Holiday Tournament girls basketball championship at MHS gym.
Ramage scored 12 of her game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter of a tight game that featured strong shooting, solid defense and one mental lapse by Mahomet.
Mattoon has now captured this tournament title for the second straight time, earning the title in 2019 before COVID prevented play last year.
Mattoon has now won the tournament nine times since 1992, and finished runner-up five more times. Mattoon has reached the championship game the past five times the tournament has been held.
“They (Mahomet) are a solid basketball team,” Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt said. “We made some adjustments. And the girls really executed. I’m so proud of them. You know, they always play hard. I never doubt their effort. They always give me 100 percent. No matter what. They went out there and executed the game plan.”
Ramage, a 5-foot-10 guard, constantly made big plays in the second half.
Ahead by only a point, Ramage scored to put Mattoon ahead 36-33 with 1 :14 into the final quarter.
The senior then blocked a shot and followed that by popping a 3-pointer from the top right side of the arc 31 seconds later to make it 39-33.
• Please donate to help support our local coverage. We are a not-for-profit 501c3. You can read more and donate here. Thanks for considering this gift.
After Ramage blocked a shot by Cayla Koerner, Mahomet scored five straight points to move within 39-38 before missing a free throw that could have tied the score.
Ramage countered the Bulldogs several times during the final minutes.
- She converted three of four free throws on ensuing possessions to make it 42-40.
- Ramage took a pass under the basket, nimbly changing hands and lofting in a reverse layup to make it 44-41.
- And she made a layup to extend Mattoon’s lead to 46-41 with 1:42 remaining.
Mahomet closed to 46-43 but could not convert on two 3-point attempts, the last one falling well short of the basket. Missed free throws twice prevented Mahomet from tying the score in the final four minutes.
Mattoon forward Chloe Pruitt said playing an already familiar team on successive nights created some challenges. That’s a reason Aydt shifted from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone defense.
“They get a feel for our players and you get a feel for theirs,” Pruitt said. “They really got to know how to defend us well and kind of know our plays. So we had to do a really good job of just working together and just trying to defend them the best that we can.”
Mattoon’s Faith Niebrugge said shifting to a 2-3 zone helped a great deal. “I think what they (Mahomet) learned from us is that we’re a very hard team to put down,” she said.
Ramage said Mahomet played tighter defense on her than the night before.
“They were up in my face a lot more,” Ramage said. “She (Koerner) is a really good defender. She was up in my face like half the game last time. It was the whole game (Wednesday night) so it was a lot harder to get open.”
Ramage still managed to score five more points than in Tuesday’s 52-49 win in pool play – and nearly six points more than her season average of 23.9 points.
“She handles the pressure so well,” Aydt said. “She can play everywhere on the floor. She doesn’t take plays off. She always gives 100 percent. She gets a lot of deflections, a lot of steals, a lot of jump balls. All the little things. You know she will get the job done.”
Ramage, who broke the MHS scoring record three weeks earlier, hit a jumper to reach 2,000 points in the second quarter, helping MHS earn a 26-19 halftime lead. She would finish the night with 2,017 career points.
Ramage’s two free throws a minute into the third quarter gave Mattoon a nine-point lead that eventually dissolved toward the end of the quarter when Mahomet mixed it up –hitting a 3-pointer, driving the lane for a layup and snagging a rebound for a putback to move within 33-31.
The Bulldogs might have tied the score were it not for a mental lapse. Nicole Taylor, thinking she was fouled, walked toward the free-throw line as the ball rolled on the floor. A teammate, who also thought a foul call was deserved, picked up the ball and walked with it toward an official, earning a travel violation. Ramage made one of two free-throw attempts on the ensuing possession to extend the Green Wave’s lead to 34-31 with 28.3 seconds left in the quarter.
MATTOON: Ghere 3 0-2 9, Farmer 2 1-3 5, Jurka 1 0-0 2, Niebrugge 0 2-4 2, Ramage 10 8-12 30. Totals 16 11-21 48. 3-pointers – Ghere 3, Ramage 2.
MAHOMET: Thomas 1 1-2 3, Koerner 6 0-0 12, Taylor 1 3-6 5, Bunting 1 0-0 2, Oregon 3 1-1 7, Juarez 5 4-6 14. Totals 17 9-15 43. 3-pointers – none.
Additional photos from this game are available here.