Photos and Story by Dominic Baima
Coming off a narrow 49-45 loss to Mahomet earlier in the afternoon, Mattoon was looking to pull off a win over Galesburg to advance to the championship game of its tournament Thursday.
The Green Wave rallied to cut a 13-point deficit at the half to only two points by the final minute.
But Galesburg held on to claim the final spot in the championship of the Mattoon Girls Holiday Tournament with a 45-41 victory over Mattoon.
Early points by senior Lily Ghere and junior Piper Sanders had put the Green Wave ahead 4-0 before Galesburg jumped ahead with an 11-0 run, ultimately leading Mattoon 13-6 by the end of the first quarter.
Galesburg would hold Mattoon to only four points in the second quarter, extending their lead to 23-10.
Mattoon Junior Emily Maple would go on a scoring spree and score the next 11 points for the Green Wave in the third quarter.
Back-to-back threes in the final minutes of the third quarter by Maple and Ghere would give Mattoon the momentum they needed to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Galesburg would score early in the fourth quarter before Ghere would score twice and Junior Ella Conyers would capitalize on a foul to add two more points making it a nine-point game.
Galesburg would add a free throw, which was answered by Conyers with a 3-pointer.
Maple would go ahead for a shot, force the foul, and makeone of the free throws.
Galesburg would score two more points before Conyers would connect on another three bringing the Green Wave within six points.
Galesburg would try and slow down the game and run off the clock as they passed the ball around the top of the arch before Mattoon could regain possession on a rebound.
A basket by junior Teygen Sewell put Mattoon within four points. With less than a minute left, Sanders grabbed a rebound under the basket and score to make it a two-point game.
On what would have been the tying layup at 22 seconds left, Ghere drew a charging foul.
Sanders then intentionally fouled Galesburg senior Capre Ferguson on the inbound, which forced the free throw that Ferguson connected to extend the Streaks’ lead to three.
Mattoon moved the ball down downcourt before losing control with both teams diving for it, resulting in a jump ball with the possession going to Galesburg.
Mattoon fouled on the inbound and Galesburg made a free throw, sealing the 45-41 victory.
“We’ve had five or six games with that same score it feels like,” said Mattoon coach Troy Haacke. “We’re gaining experience with four juniors playing without a lot of varsity experience so we’re learning something every time.”
Haacke said the strength and size of Galesburg made the matchup difficult, but he was proud of the defensive effort that resulted in Galesburg’s lowest score so far in the tournament.
“I think we did a much better job on the defensive end. Galesburg had scored over 50 points in all three games before this. I said ‘Let’s keep them under 50.’ That was a huge goal of ours, and we did it.”
Mattoon will be back in action at 6 tonight against Champaign Central to determine who will take the third and fourth place spots in the tournament.
Find additional photos from the game here.
MATTOON: Ghere 3 2-0 9, Maple 3 4-3 12, Sanders 2 2-1 5, Masse 0 0-0 0, Powers 0 0-0 0, Conyers 1 4-2 13, Sewell 1 0-0 2. Three-pointers: Ghere 1, Maple 1, Conyers 3.
GALESBURG: L Clark 0 0-0 0, Kilgore 8 9-4 20, Ferguson 3 2-1 7, Edgerson 0 1-0 3, McLaughlin 0 0-0 0, Kisler 0 0-0 0, Boyd 4 2-2 10, Schwartzman 2 2-2 10. Three-pointers: Edgerson 1.