The way Troy Haacke sees it, his Green Wave has just as good a chance as anyone else at the Mattoon Holiday Tournament. 

The Green Wave, the defending champions, lost a core group from last season.

But the team has been competitive this season despite being 5-6.

Four of the team’s six losses have been decided by five points. The team is averaging 50.8 points offensively, 5.7 points more than they have been allowing on average.

Interestingly, MHS is 1-3 at home.

“We have had a good start to the season,” said Haacke. “Our girls are scrappy, and we play extremely hard.  Each game we get a little better both on the defensive end and offensive end of the floor.”

Mattoon is led by Lily Ghere, the team’s sole returning starter. Ghere is averaging 15 points and two steals per game while shooting 48% from the field.

Emily Maple has also turned into a team leader, sometimes taking over at the end and scoring the most points on the team in almost half of Mattoon’s games. She is averaging 3.5 assists and15.7 points on 42% field-goal shooting. In addition, Ella Conyers is averaging 8.6 points, 1.4 steals and is shooting 33% on 3-pointers.

“I think the tournament has eight equal teams,” said Haacke. “All of  the teams are good, I think there will be some great close games, and all the teams match up well against each other.”

Mahomet-Seymour played Mattoon in the championship last year. The Bulldogs played two highly competitive games but fell to the Green Wave both times. Mattoon and Mahomet-Seymour made the Sweet 16 last season, while the Bulldogs made the Elite 8. 

Mahomet lost All-Tournament selections Cayla Koehner, Ivie Saurez, and Nicole Taylor from last year’s team. Returning are Durbin Thomas, Abby Bunting, and Savannah Orgeron. Orgeron was an All-Apollo Second-Team selection last season. 

Mahomet (10-3) has lost its three games by a combined 12 points. “We have bounced back as of late coming into the tourney riding a 5-game win streak,” said Mahomet coach Garrett Risley. 

Galesburg coach Evan Massey calls Mahomet the favorite to win the tournament. In his 45th year coaching the Silver Streaks, Massey owns 977 career wins and is second all-time in IHSA history for coaching wins. Last year, the team won its first IHSA Regional Championship in five seasons and graduated four starters. 

However, the team has rebounded quite well from the 23-11 team and enters the tournament with a 12-3 record. Five players who played significant minutes return, including All-Tournament selection Kiarra Kilgore. The 5-foot-9 guard was the team’s leading scorer last year and is joined by 5-foot-9 Syriah Boyd and 5-foot-11 Juniper Schwartzman. 

Massey said his team was among several teams with a shot to win the tournament. “Record-wise, Altamont, St Anthony, and Mahomet look to be the favorite,” he said.

Altamont looks like a team that could make a deep run in Class 1A postseason this year. Pending on where the team finishes, Grace Nelson could be a frontrunner for MVP. Nelson, last year’s Class 1A hurdle champion, is a two-time Holiday All-Tournament selection. The junior was both a National Trails Conference MVP and All-State player. 

“Long, athletic, and focused,” said Altamont coach Katie Lurkins. “She has put in the work during the offseason to elevate her game. She is a nightmare to defend due to her quickness and ability to handle the ball. Defensively, she reads and has such quick hands. She is a humble teammate that truly loves the game of basketball.”

Nelson leads the team in scoring with 34 points per game. The next-highest scorer on the team is Claire Boehm at 6.9 points. Nelson adds 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 rebounds. All five starters from last year’s 15-16 team are back, which has helped the team start the season 11-3. 

“We are returning everyone from last year,” said Lurkins. “It’s been a competitive start with a 10-2 record against larger schools.  We are a small public 1A school. We lost our first two games by a total of seven points.  We are excited to play larger schools and strong competition.”

Among other contenders, St. Anthony brings an 11-1 record to the tournament. The team’s lone loss of the season was 65-43 to town rival Effingham. St. Anthony owns a 76-73 win over Altamont this season. Lucy Fearday, a 6-foot-0 senior forward, was an All-Tournament Team selection last year. 

Olney brings a 4-7 record and their lone All-Tournament selection from last year in Kenzie Weiler. The team is 2-1 in the Little Illini Conference. Kenidee Boldt leads the team with 10.5 points per game while Weiler averaged 6.6 points. Two players appear to be strong rebounders in juniors Grayce Burgener (6.9 RPG) and Danielle Reagan-Brown (6.7 RPG). 

Nobody on the Champaign Central team made an All-Tournament Team. The Maroons are 8-8 on the season and 2-2 in the Big 12 Conference. As for Sullivan, the team is making an appearance back in the tournament after time away. Sullivan replaces Decatur Eisenhower. The team is 5-7 overall and 0-3 in the Central Illinois Conference. Izabelle Hayes leads the team with 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds. 


Grace Nelson (Altamont) – Nelson is averaging over 30.0 points per game and appears to be the only All-State player from last year returning. She is averaging 34.0 points per game. She is already the all-time leading scorer at Altamont and has a year and a half to play. Even if Altamont doesn’t make the championship, Nelson could win the Tournament MVP Award if she lives up to her stats. 

Kierra Kilgore (Galesburg) – Kilgore was flirting with averaging 20.0 points per game last year and wound up averaging 19.2 for the Regional Championship team in 2022. If Galesburg has a tournament run in them, the team will be paced by Kilgore. This could be the first time since 2017 that Galesburg makes a championship bid. 

Lucy Fearday (St. Anthony) – Fearday owns over 1,000 points in her career with the Bulldogs. She joined graduated Riley Guy as the second player to earn her 1,000th point that season. Fearday is a returning All-Tournament pick. 

Lily Ghere (Mattoon) – Ghere helped Mattoon make the championship last year with multiple clutch shots. Her 17 points in the pool play game helped the team go 3-0 before eventually meeting the Bulldogs again in the championship. Ghere is Mattoon’s leading scorer and has a shot to make All-Tournament Team for the second year in a row. 

Savannah Orgeron (Mahomet-Seymour) – The former All-Apollo pick has already committed to playing college basketball at the next level. Orgeron will play at Illinois Central Community College. Now, she headlines a tough Bulldogs team that could make a championship run. 


Pool A: Mattoon, Olney, Altamont, Mahomet-Seymour

Pool B: Galesburg, Champaign Central, St. Anthony, Sullivan

Dec. 27

Session A

Game 1   8:30 am St Anthony vs Champaign Central

Game 2 10:00 am Mahomet vs Richland Co

Game 3 11:30 am Mattoon vs Altamont

Game 4   1:00 pm Sullivan vs Galesburg

Session B

Game 5   3:00 pm Altamont vs Mahomet

Game 6   4:30 pm Galesburg vs Champaign Central

Game 7   6:00 pm Richland Co vs Mattoon

Game 8   7:30 pm St Anthony vs Sullivan

Dec. 28

Session C

Game 9   8:30 am Champaign Central vs Sullivan

Game 10 10:00 am St Anthony vs Galesburg

Game 11 11:30 am Richland Co vs Altamont

Game 12   1:00 pm Mattoon vs Mahomet

Session D

Game 13   4:00 pm 3rd place in Pool A vs 4th place in Pool B

Game 14   5:30 pm 4th place in Pool A vs 3rd place in Pool B 

Game 15   7:00 pm 1st place in Pool A vs 2nd place in Pool B 

Game 16   8:30 pm 2nd place in Pool A vs 1st place in Pool B 

Dec. 29

Session E

Game 17   3:00  pm Loser of game 13 vs Loser of game 14 

Game 18   4:30  pm          Winner of game 13 vs Winner of game 14 

Game 19   6:00  pm Loser of game 15 vs Loser of game 16 

Game 20   7:30  pm Winner of game 15 vs Winner of game 16

In case of a tie in pool play, the tie will be broken in the following order:

  1. Head-to-head competition
  2. Fewest points allowed among tied teams
  3. Team free throw percentage among tied teams
  4. A flip of a coin among tied teams