Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
Disappointed with an 11-point loss to Lincoln on Friday night, Mallory Ramage scored 35 points to lead the Green Wave to a 61-51 victory over St. Joe-Ogden on Saturday afternoon.
“I know I wanted to come out strong this game after last night,” said Ramage, who had 21 points at the half. “I mean no one likes to lose. I wanted to come out strong and get it done.”
Green Wave senior guard Faith Niebrugge said the team went into Friday’s game with the wrong mindset after having beaten quality opponents for two weeks. But they wanted to change for Saturday on a quick turnaround.
“It wore us down,” she said. “But our mindset after beating those opponents, over and over, our mindset was we could go out winning. They (SJ-O) just got out of COVID and they haven’t practiced much. They would’ve been tired. That was our mindset. It wasn’t the right mindset going into that game.”
The Green Wave capped a 20-point second quarter on a 5-0 run that gave them a 33-23 lead at halftime.
“I think last night’s game we weren’t flowing well,” Niebrugge said. “Today, we picked it up a little better and worked together as a team better than yesterday.”
Ramage said the team came out for Saturday’s game with more energy.
“I think it was our energy,” she said. “Our energy was down last night. We knew we wanted to come out strong with a win.”
Niebrugge noted they can’t go out expecting to win. “We have to work for what we do,” she said. “We have to play with that mindset.”
The Green Wave’s full-court press induced 16 steals, five of which came from Ramage.
“’Once we started pressing, our energy came up a lot,” she said. “A lot of steals. I think that worked out really well for us.”
Ramage went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 67 seconds of the fourth quarter, which helped stave off an SJ-O rally. Mattoon scored just nine points in the final quarter.
“We’ve played a lot of good teams in a row, but we wanted to come out strong today,” Ramage said. “We worked together.”
Ramage said while the team talks well with each other, senior leadership spoke about how crucial a win would be against SJ-O.
“We were saying we were going to win this game,” she said. “We were going to come out tough and come out strong early.
“After last night, all of us were like ‘we’re not losing this game. We’re coming out with strong ‘D'(defense).’ ”
Mattoon limited 6-foot-3 senior Taylor Wells to just nine points.
Niebrugge said the press was to get SJ-O flustered.
“She’s a big girl,” she said. “She can score and get around a lot of our girls. So we needed to shut her down quickly.”
Niebrugge said the team’s mindset now is to work for each win. ”Just keep pushing through together and work hard for every single game and not just kind of lollygag and think we’re going to win.”
MATTOON – Ghere 2 0-0 5, Pruitt 4 0-0 8, Farmer 3 0-0 6, Niebrugge 2 3-5 7, Ramage 11 9-14 35. Totals: 22 12-19 61. 3-pointers: Ghere 1, Ramage 4.
ST. JOE-OGDEN – Lannert 2 0-0 5, Frick 4 0-0 10, Jacob 5 2-2 12, Wells 4 0-0 8, Jones 3 2-5 9, Armstrong 3 0-0 7. Totals: 21 4-7 51. 3-pointers: Lannert 1, Frick 2, Jones 1, Armstrong 1.