The question: How to replace Mallory Ramage.
How do you replace a four-time All-Apollo, Division I athlete, who owns the single game, single season, and career points records for Mattoon High School?
Plus, they must replace one of the best coaches in the area after Amanda Aydt stepped down to spend more time with her family after eight seasons in which she guided her teams to a 158-73 overall record and a regional title last season.
Let’s not forget the loss of two second-team all-Apollo selections – Chloe Pruitt and faith Niebrugge.
This team came within a play of winning the sectional title last season.
Troy Haacke doesn’t have all the answers, but he is ready to make the jump from junior varsity to varsity head coach.
And despite these major challenges, he is very excited about what this team has to offer.
“The girls are working hard on offense, defense, and overall individual skills,” Haacke said. “Yes, taking over for Coach Aydt is a big deal. She did an amazing job with her teams and was very successful but we are not going to compare last year’s team to our teams moving forward. We graduated five wonderful seniors, and our team this year is predominately juniors that have their style of play. This team is going to be fun and exciting, and I am looking forward to the season.”
Offensively, the Green Wave has quite a few holes to fill.
Ramage averaged 25.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists last season. Ramage surpassed the all-time leading scoring mark by more than 500 points despite the team missing half a season due to COVID her junior year, finishing with 2,486 career points.
Pruitt and Niebrugger were also second-team all-Apollo selections last year. Pruitt averaged 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.6 blocks last season, while Niebrugge was a top defender who averaged 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 3.3 steals.
Stepping into a leading role should be senior Lily Ghere, a starter last season. Emily Maple is expected to step into a major role on varsity, while Teygan Sewell, who Haacke calls a great passer and rebounder, is expected to be an option in the middle.
“We have a group of girls that could all make significant contributions to this year’s team,” said Haacke. “We have several girls that are very good shooters and can get hot at any time.”
Top returning players
(Stats for 2021-22)
Joining Ghere and Maple on the wing should be Roma Worthington, Elle Conyers, Piper Sanders, and Bella Masse. Coming up from JV will be Blair Powers and Kameron Lathrop. Haacke believes the guards could pose problems for opposing teams with their quickness.
“On the perimeter, we are mostly guards,” said Haacke. “All of them can handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. Blair Powers and Kameron Lathrop will come in and are very diverse in being able to play both in the paint and on the perimeter. Gabby Golding will give us additional depth in the paint.”
The Green Wave won a very deep Apollo Conference last year with an 11-1 record. Mattoon, Mahomet-Seymour, and Lincoln all made the IHSA state Sweet 16.
“Some of our goals are continually to get better each day and throughout the season,” said Haacke. “We want to compete in every game, tournament, and all the conference games.”
Taylor Smith takes over as the head JV coach while Tony Hupp will be the freshmen coach.