BETHALTO – Mallory Ramage went the full length of the court for a lay-up that tied the score in the final seconds of regulation.
Forward Chloe Pruitt made several key blocks, grabbed some big rebounds and had perhaps her best offensive effort of the season with 19 points.
Faith Niebrugge made five of seven field goals, snagged a rebound off a missed free throw and subsequently made two FTs of her own with 11.3 seconds left to set up Ramage’s last-second shot in regulation.
And Mattoon (29-3) even went up by a point to start overtime Friday night in the Class 3A Sectional final.
But, ultimately, it was Civic Memorial that made a few more plays down the stretch to hand Mattoon only its third loss of the season, 72-68, and advance to next week’s Super Sectional girls basketball game against Mahomet, which beat Lincoln, 31-28, earlier Friday. The Green Wave swept the Bulldogs this season.
“This was just a great basketball game,” Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt said. “This was one of the best games that I’ve ever been a part of. The score went back and forth. Ties. Lead changes. It was a great basketball game.”
Civic Memorial was nearly flawless at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and overtime, making 16 of 18 – including eight in a row at one point.
“They can all shoot,” Aydt said. “That’s a very good team.”
Civic Memorial made 20 of 25 free throws overall while MHS hit 14 of 19.
“I guess our free throws weren’t falling tonight,” Ramage said.
Mattoon, which led by seven midway through the second quarter and stayed ahead for much of the game heading into the fourth quarter, fell behind 55-51 with 1:47 left in the final regulation period.
Pruitt then snagged a rebound and put the ball in to make it 55-53 with 1:29 left and Anna Jurka was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound 25 seconds later. She made both to tie the score at 55.
Civic Memorial went ahead 58-55 with 32 seconds remaining. Pruitt was then fouled grabbing another offensive rebound. After Pruitt made the first FT, she missed the second. But Faith Niebrugge snuck in to snare one of her eight rebounds, getting fouled along the way. The senior subsequently made both shots to make it 58-all.
Mattoon missed a shot that circled the rim and spun out, enabling the Eagles to race downcourt. The Green Wave fouled junior point guard Aubrey Wallace, who made both free throws to make it 60-58 with 11.3 second left.
Ramage then raced downcourt to lay in a shot with 5 seconds left to force the overtime.
Ramage also made a free throw to put Mattoon ahead 61-60 a minute into overtime, the last time the Green Wave would lead.
A 3-pointer by Ramage enabled MHS to close within 69-68 with 14.9 seconds remaining in OT. But a missed floater by Mattoon and three more FTs by Civic Memorial put the game out of reach as time expired.
“We had our chances,” Aydt said. “We had our looks at the basket. We just came up short.”
Civic Memorial played a diamond-and-one defense in an attempt to slow down Ramage, assigning a defender to go one-on-one with the senior while allowing the other four players to float in a zone setup. It sort of worked in the first half. Ramage did not score until she drained a stepback 3-pointer near the start of the second quarter, but fellow seniors Pruitt and Niebrugge countered by scoring eight apiece.
“Whenever Mallory is getting taken out of the game,” Pruitt said, “I feel like we do a really good job of finding the open person and making the extra pass. I think we did a really good job of that tonight.”
“Chloe did a great job,” Ramage said. “I’ve loved playing with her ever since I was little. I’m proud of her.”
Ramage was able to assert herself more in the second half, driving to the basket and twice scoring after swiping the ball defensively and going full court for layups. She scored 21 points in the second half and overtime.
“I’m really proud of the program that we’ve built at Mattoon High School together with all of the seniors,” Ramage said, “and all of the younger girls. We’ve built something really great.”
“We made memories that will last a lifetime,” Aydt said.
Chet Piotrowski contributed to this report.
MATTOON: Ramage 8 8-11 26, Niebrugge 5 2-2 12, Pruitt 8 2-4 19, Ghere 3 0-0 7, Jurka 0 2-2 2, Maple 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 14-19 68.