This rematch was not close.
In early December, Mattoon had relied on heroic efforts, tenacious defense and errant Taylorville shooting to rally for a 49-48 victory in the final seconds.
On Tuesday, MHS took a large, early lead for a 51-39 Apollo girls basketball victory that keeps the Green Wave one game ahead of Lincoln in the conference standings. The two teams split their season matchups. The Green Wave, ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press statewide poll and No. 17 in the MaxPreps rankings, are now 24-2 overall, 9-1 in the Apollo. Lincoln, ranked No. 9 in the AP Poll, is 8-2.
The Green Wave have two remaining Apollo games against Mt. Zion and Charleston; Lincoln faces Effingham and Mahomet, which handed the Railsplitters their only other conference loss.
Taylorville coach Hayden Eldred had said limiting scoring opportunities for senior Mallory Ramage would be essential Tuesday night.
Ramage, though, combined with Faith Niebrugge for 17 first-half points that gave the Green Wave a 35-12 halftime lead. The senior countered the Tornadoes’ tough final-quarter defense by sinking six of eight free-throw attempts and scoring a game-high 17 points.
Taylorville rallied to outscore MHS 19-6 in the third quarter to close within 42-31. But the Green Wave battled back hard in a low-scoring final quarter.
Mattoon’s game against Mt. Zion, originally scheduled for Friday, has been moved to Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Green Wave next play Sullivan on Saturday and Paris next Monday.
MATTOON: Ramage 5 6-8 17, Niebrugge 5 1-3 11, Maple 1 4-6 7, Pruitt 2 2-2 6, Farmer 2 2-3 6, Ghere 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 15-22 50. 3-pointers – Ramage 1, Maples 1, Ghere 1. Rebounds – Ramage 7, Pruitt 4, Niebrugge 3. Steals – Niebrugge 4, Pruitt 3, Jurka 2. Assists – Niebrugge 3, Ramage 2.