With four games scheduled for tonight, publishing four previews was not going to work for this busy teacher. Instead, we condensed what we could with coach’s commentary. 

Here is the preview for all four games tonight. 

Mattoon boys (12-11) vs. Champaign Centennial (11-8)

The Chargers are 4-2 in the Big 12 Conference and bring a talented guard in 6-foot-2 senior Trae Warren, who was averaging 17.2 points per game. Jack Young adds 16.0 points and 7.6 rebounds and stands at 6-foot-5. 

Mattoon is coming off one of their best losses of the season. Despite losing to Lincoln on Friday, their 40-35 score shows they pushed the Apollo Conference leaders to the edge. Now that the team appears to be fully healthy, head coach Ryan Ghere likes where the team is heading as the postseason draws closer. 

“We played really good defense on Friday, especially in the second half,” said Ghere. “The boys played hard throughout the game.  Hopefully, we will play that good of defense against Centennial.  I haven’t watched a film on them yet, but I know they are athletic and talented.  We will have to play well to win.”

Charleston boys (14-7) vs. Olney (22-0)

Despite owning a 22-0 record, Olney is not ranked in the top-10 in Class 3A. In the recent IHSA AP Poll, Olney received just two votes, which puts the team ranked tied for 16th in the state. 

The team’s best player appears to be 6-foot-5 senior forward Chase Travis, who is averaging 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. The team’s next leading scorers are Drew Blank, who is averaging 8.7 points per game, and sophomore Ian Winkley, averaging 7.3 points per game. 

Head coach Rob Flanagan is in his 25th season coaching at Olney. All results are posted on IHSA up to the 2016-2017 season, in which he compiled a 341-243 record with five Regional Championships, two Sectional Championships, one state berth, and a third-place finish in 2007-2008. 

“They are a very well-coached team that can do a little bit of everything,” said Charleston coach Cody Drone. “Chase Travis is one of the best players in Illinois this year and at 6-5 and a good shooter and finisher he is a tough matchup for anybody in the state. They play aggressive defense looking for traps and give plenty of pressure. They are just a complete all-around basketball team.” 

Drone said that Charleston is going to need to be on top of its game, if they stand a chance of upsetting the Tigers. 

“Execution on both sides of the ball will be the biggest key for us on Tuesday,” said Drone. “We must run a solid offense and limit our turnovers against them. Our defense will need to be in top form and make sure we make them make tough contested shots all night. Lastly, we will need to outwork them and value every single possession tomorrow night.”

Mattoon (23-2, 8-1) @ Taylorville (13-10, 6-4)

The last time these two teams played, Taylorville nearly upset Mattoon, the No. 7 ranked team in Class 3A. It took late-game heroics from Mallory Ramage, as her free throw sealed the 49-48 thriller. Now, Mattoon travels to Taylorville in what could be a decisive Apollo Conference clincher, if the Green Wave can pull off the win. 

“Taylorville is a solid team,” said MHS coach Amanda Aydt. “I am really happy with the way our team has been playing, but we have to continue to work hard and get better.  I like the way we play together as a team.”

Taylorville is led by a group of leading scorers. That includes freshman Addison Tarr and Mazie Fleming, and sophomore Aubrey Kietzman. Leading rebounders are Tarr, Fleming, and Olivia Woodward. 

The young Taylorville squad has made gains this season and looks forward to the rematch. 

“We had ourselves in a good position to win last time, just could not quite execute some things down the stretch,” said head coach Hayden Eldred. “We have gained more experience, and if we can manage to get ourselves in the same situation, we will have a much better chance of finishing things out.”

Eldred said that the team is going to need to limit Ramage as much as they can. 

“They have a lot of quick, hard-working girls that can shoot the ball well,” said Eldred. “They are led by a great player in Mallory Ramage, who has the experience and skill to take a game over, so limiting her runs and open looks while still closing out to the other shooters is difficult. It was an exciting game last time, and we hope to make it another one with a different outcome.”

Charleston (1-20, 0-10) @ Effingham (16-10, 3-6)

Charleston travels to Effingham for an Apollo Conference match at Effingham. Charleston is looking for its first Apollo win of the season. Senior Ellie Long leads the team with 5.8 points per game.