By Mike Monahan
Mahomet may have dominated the boards Thursday night.
But that didn’t stop the Green Wave from nearly winning its Apollo season opener on two last-second shots that missed, the last caroming out.
As a result, a strong rally in the fourth quarter fell short in a 53-51 loss.
Mattoon had lost another game in the final seconds to Mahomet a week ago.
“This one hurts,” Mattoon coach Brandon Jones said. “We talked a lot about when we played Rantoul and how much bigger they were and we ended up outboarding them. I think the boards got us tonight.”
Mahomet held a 40-27 advantage in rebounding.
But Mattoon’s man-to-man defense held Mahomet to just 5-of-18 (.278) during the first 12:40 of the second half.
Lucas Dyer tied the game at 45 with a 3-pointer with 3:19 left.
Wyatt Bohm netted two free throws for a 52-48 Bulldogs lead with 18.7 seconds remaining.
Powers then completed a three-point play, making it 52-51 with seven seconds left, but giving Mahomet (2-3) possession.
“We went over who we wanted to foul and I contemplated fouling before the clock even started,” said Jones. “It was an option. We were hustling and leaving it all on the floor. I wanted to take the game and see if we could get the ‘W’. We stopped them two to three times on their inbounds play and we got pretty close to the five-second call on the last one. It was not a bad foul and we fouled the right person. We had to box out and outlet and go straight to the basket. We wanted to hustle down and get the layup and we had two shots. We did all the things right, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce where you want it to bounce.”
Powers was one of three MHS players to finish in double-digit scoring with 10. Taeriek Grace recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“You have to give it all to our kids in this one,” said Jones. “They played their hearts out. They left everything on the floor. They did everything you could ask of them and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce the way you want to in the finals seconds.”
Mahomet-Seymour led most of the game, but never by more than 10 in the Apollo Conference opener for both teams. Mattoon (0-5) took its first lead with 6:02 left in the game on a putback by Grace, a 6-foot-3 senior.
The Green Wave expanded the lead to 45-42 with 3:40 remaining on a pair of free throws by Bryce Jean.
The Bulldogs, though, took the lead for good after an 8-0 run made it 50-45 with 1:20 left.
“Blaine (Powers) just played phenomenal. Our seniors (Jackson Helms, Christian Larson, and Grace) really stepped up,” said Jones. “I would say they led about as much as you could ask someone to lead.”
Jones was happy with the play of two players who came off the bench: Andrew Wetzel and Colton Smith.
“They were very valuable,” said Jones. “We are just seeing this burst of Wetzel’s scoring ability. I look for him to get hot later this season. He is just getting into the swing of it. It is early in the season and everyone is just finding their groove.”
Mahomet, which played man-to-man defense, jumped out to a 12-2 lead after the opening 3:51, including back-to-back three-pointers by Jacob Waldinger to start the game.
The 12-2 run by the Green Wave tied the score at 14. Powers and Larson hit 3- pointers followed by a putback by Jace Gardner and a free-throw by Colton Smith.
“We had nerves,” said Jones “We got out there and the crowd was roaring at the first home game of the year. The kids were excited and just got nervous. We settled down and just got to work.”
Mattoon, 0-5 overall and 0-1 in the Apollo, plays host to Lincoln on Saturday night.
MAHOMET-SEYMOUR: Lynch 4 4-5 12, Eisenmann 2 0-0 5, Bohm 3 4-4 10, Selk 0 0-0 0, Waldringer 3 1-3 9, Finnley 0 0-0 0,A. Dyer 5 2-7 14, L. Dyer 1 0-0 3, Totals 18 11-19 53
3-point goals 6-18 (.333) Waldinger 2, Eisenmann 1, L. Dyer 1, A. Dyer 2). Shooting percentage: 18-46 (.391). Rebounds 40 (Bohm 10), Turnovers 14, Bench points 17
MATTOON: Powers 3 3-3 10, Helms 0 0-0 0, Gardner 1 0-4 2, Larson 5 0-0 12, Grace 6 0 1 13, Smith 2 1-2 7, Wetzel 2 0-0 5, Jean 0 2-2 2, Boyer 0 0-0 0, Mosley 0 0-0 0,Totals 19 6-12 51
3-point goals: 7-15 (.467) (Powers 1, Larson 2, Smith 2, Wetzel 1, Grace 1). Shooting percentages 19-48 (396), Rebounds 27 (Grace 10), Turnvers: 12, bench points 14