You felt like Wyoming was right there.
All they needed was to give over the hump.
When Graham Ike converted a traditional three-point play to make the score 34-33, you thought this was Wyoming’s chance.
When the team cut the score to 49-44 in the second half after a scoring drought, you thought the team had all the momentum.
Heck, even after Hunter Maldonado converted a three-point play to cut the lead to 60-54 with 1:30 to play, it felt like there was a sliver of hope.
Unfortunately, it never happened and Indiana won their first NCAA tournament game since 2016 with the 66-58 victory.
A front end of a one-of-one missed. A missed layup here. One of 19 Wyoming turnovers, which was eight more than their season average, broke up the rhythm. While one can look at nine turnovers from Wyoming’s best player in Maldonado, Mattoon’s Drake Jeffries will probably point at his stat line before anything.
Jeffries finished the game with 4 points and 10 rebounds, where his first field goal didn’t come until 23 seconds left in the game. Known for his outside shooting, where he led the team in three-point field goals, Jeffries finished shooting 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.
While the loss might be disappointing, there’s nothing to be ashamed of for the 2017 graduate in Jeffries. This should be a motivator for any kid playing basketball in Coles County.
If you work hard enough, you can accomplish your dreams.
Jeffries started his college career at Minot State in North Dakota, where he redshirted and played one season. He then joined Indian Hills Community College and rose to be a three-star recruit. After finding his way last year in his first season for Wyoming, where he averaged 7.4 points, he became one of three players to average double figures this season.
This was a dream come true for someone who dreamed about this since he was four years old.
The facts are that Trayce Jackson-Davis, who led Indiana with 27 points, is an NBA prospect. Every time Wyoming went on a run, it was Jackson-Davis throwing down a jam to ignite the Hoosier crowd and end any doubt about a comeback.
This Indiana team might have been one of the last teams to make the tourney, but they recently defeated an Illinois team in the Big 10 Conference that won a share of the conference. The Big 10 was seen as the best conference in the nation and Wyoming held strong all the way to the end.
Jeffries joined 2015 Mattoon High School graduate Jack Raboin as the only players in recent memory that have ever played in the NCAA Division I Tournament. Jeffries has one year left of eligibility, so he will be the first to tell you that he wants to make it back.
This was probably the most Mattoon personnel ever tuning into TruTV.
Surely, the community would like to tune in next season.