Mattoon has plenty of motivation tonight. The Green Wave could block the Braves from getting their 20th win. Both teams have identical conference 4-6 records. There is also that lingering notion that the Braves blew out the Green Wave in their first meeting at home. On the road to Mount Zion, Mattoon could use this win for many other reasons too. 

Here is tonight’s preview:

Team Records: Mattoon (14-13, 4-6) @ Mount Zion (19-7, 4-6)

Where: Taylorville High School

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Mount Zion High School

School Size: Mattoon (926), Mount Zion (763)

JV Tip-Off: 6:00 p.m.

Varsity Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.

Opponent’s History: In the summer of 2019, former Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond boys basketball coach, Dale Schuring, was named the head coach of Mt. Zion. In his first season at Mt. Zion, the team finished 7-26. Last year, the team finished 1-14 to bring his Mt. Zion coaching total to 8-40 overall in two years. However, in 15 years as the boys’ coach of ALAH, Schuring compiled a 268-150 overall record. His tenure also included a 121-98 record in eight seasons as the girls’ basketball coach. This will be the first winning season for Mount Zion since 2016-2017. It could also be the first time the team has won 20 games in a season since their 22-10 campaign that year. 

“Twenty wins would be a great accomplishment,” said Schuring. “We haven’t set any specific goals for wins.  The success we’ve had has been greater than expected so I think we are just enjoying the season and taking things as they come.”

Mount Zion’s Past Results: Mount Zion is coming off two straight Apollo Conference losses. That includes a 61-60 loss to Taylorville and a 55-45 loss to Lincoln. Before that, Mount Zion defeated Mahomet-Seymour and Teutopolis at the end of January. 

Mount Zion’s Top Players: On paper, the Braves have height. The team has 6-foot-7 junior Carson Cuddy, 6-foot-6 sophomore Gage Owens, and 6-foot-5 senior Ryan Clark.  

Mount Zion’s Team Stats:  The Braves are averaging 62.8 points per game and allowing 54.7 points per game. 

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon is coming off a 41-39 win on the road at Effingham, but then fell to Taylorville 45-39 on Senior Night. Mattoon has lost four of their last five games. Tariek Grace led the Green Wave with 13 points. Mattoon lost to Mount Zion the first time 67-48 but was without starting center Sam Bradbury. 

Mattoon’s Team Stats:  Mattoon is averaging 49.5 points per game and allowing 46.3 points per game. 

What Mount Zion Said: “Mattoon presents problems with their size and length on defense with Sam and Middleton,” said Schuring. “Offensively, they have a nice balance of shooters, drivers, and post-up players that defensively you have to choose your poison. I think the winner will be decided by who controls the pace or tempo of the game.  We want to play fast with many possessions and they want a slower-paced game.”

What Mattoon Said: “I think having Sam this time will make a difference,” said coach Ryan Ghere. “We were really struggling when we played them the first time.  We have been playing much better.  Every game has come down to the last couple of possessions in our last 8 games.  We just need to finish better.  They are going to try to speed us up and play uptempo.  We need to value every possession and make open shots.”