After picking up their first win of the season, Mattoon can finally get that monkey off of their backs. Now, the team can look to win their first Apollo Conference game of the season as winless Taylorville comes to town. 

Here is the preview of tonight’s game. 

Team Records: Mattoon (1-8, 0-3) vs. Taylorville (0-9, 0-4)

Where: MHS Gym

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at MHS Gym. 

School Size: Mattoon (929), Taylorville (756)

JV Tip-Off: 6 p.m.

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

Taylorville’s  History: Dolph Stanley is the legendary coach from Taylorville’s earlier days. Stanley coached the Tornadoes to a state championship in 1945. After enduring numerous losing seasons since then, the team has turned a corner the last decade. That started with Hall of Fame coach Carey McVickers, leading the team to their last Regional Championship in 2013. McVickers retired in 2015 and former Mount Zion head coach Ryan Brown stepped in. Prior to the season, Brown was 116-90 at Taylorville. In three seasons at Mount Zion, Brown was 53-36. Last year, the team was 16-15. 

Taylorville’s Past Results: Taylorville lost all four games at their Thanksgiving Tournament. The team opened the year with a 67-35 loss to Springfield. That was followed with a close 46-43 loss to Granite City before being blown out 69-27 by Troy Triad. The final game was a 63-40 loss to Mount Vernon. Since the tourney, Taylorville has suffered losses to Effingham (60-57), Charleston (76-69), Lincoln (61-28), Tolono Unity (72-42), and Mahomet-Seymour (74-52). 

“I’m actually pretty happy with our guys so far,” said Brown. “We battle every day in practice and we play very hard for 32 minutes.  Sometimes our shots don’t fall and we really struggle with rebounding just from lack of size.”

Taylorville’s Top Players: First-Team All-Apollo selection Bryce Friedrich graduated. Among the top players returning are Will Bitschenauer, Will Turvey, Baron Odam, and Drake Howard. 

Taylorville’s Team Stats:  Individual stats are not available. The Tornadoes are averaging 43.6 points per game and allowing 65.3 points per game. 

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon was defeated by Olney on Saturday 50-35. The team picked up their first win of the season over Shelbyville on Tuesday 60-55. Tareick Grace and Blaine Powers combined for 32 points. Grace scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half. Christian Larson added 10 points and 16 rebounds. 

Mattoon’s Team Stats: Individual stats are not available. The Green Wave are averaging 45.5 points per game and allowing 56.4 points per game. 

What Taylorville Said: “Our team and coaching staff are staying very positive and that itself shows the type of people we have in our program,” said Brown. “We know we’ll get a win sometime from working hard and staying positive. Honestly, I really don’t feel like there’s extra motivation.  We prepare for every opponent the same way with utmost respect and attention to detail.”