While the two teams have already met this year, the buzz is in the air for the Coles country rivalry game.
“The buzz is already in the air all around Mattoon High School,” said coach Brandon Jones. “You can see the players walking up and down the hall with a little bit more bounce in their steps. You can hear the students already talking about their plans for the game. Not to mention, the various students that will run up in the hallway asking who we think is going to win the game and if will it be close.”
No matter what the records are, the spirit tends to get a bit more lively when it is Trojans and Green Wave basketball being played. The two rival schools will meet for the second time this year but this will feature an Apollo Conference matchup. Charleston has a chance to get break even in the conference while Mattoon is looking to get revenge for their loss at Teutopolis.
Here is tonight’s (Friday) preview.
Team Records: Charleston (5-9, 2-3) vs. Mattoon (3-14, 1-4)
Where: Charleston High School
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Baker Gym
School Size: Charleston (796), Mattoon (929)
JV Tip-Off: 6:00 p.m.
Varsity Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.
Charleston’s Past Results: Over Christmas break, Charleston played at the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic where the team finished 2-2. Charleston was defeated by Teutopolis 75-50 and Lutheran North out of St. Louis, Missouri 72-62. Their wins included a 60-55 win over Dixon and a 59-45 win over Mattoon. On Tuesday, Charleston lost to state-ranked Casey-Westfield 75-56.
Head coach AJ Alexander missed the first meeting at the holiday tournament due to being sick. Junior varsity coach Colin McInerney stepped up in his place.
“I was really bummed I wasn’t able to make it for the first matchup in T-Town,” said Alexander. “Never like missing anything for hoops. Being at practice these last several days has been great to be back in action with the team. I know the guys are always excited for the Mattoon vs Charleston rivalry game regardless of when it is because they always know how wild of an atmosphere it will be. In Wisconsin, we didn’t have a rivalry game quite like this one and it is super fun to be a part of.”
Charleston’s Top Players: Three players lead the team in scoring. Caleb Oakley leads the team with 12.3 points. William Applegate is not far behind with 12.2 points, while Luke Bonstetter adds 10.6 points per game. Oakley was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Christmas Classic, while Applegate was an All-Tournament selection last season.
Charleston’s Team Stats: The Trojans are averaging 53.7 points and allowing 61.5 points per game.
Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon also participated in the Christmas Classic. The team finished the tournament 1-3. Their losses began with an 86-51 loss to tournament champion Lincoln Way East. The state-ranked team rolled past the Green Wave 86-51. Highland defeated Mattoon 53-51 before the Trojans defeated Mattoon 59-45. Their lone win came over Newton 59-47. On Tuesday, the team was defeated on the road at Pana 68-65.
Mattoon has lost six of their last seven games.
“Until we are getting back on the bus to head back to our locker room, everyone is going to have to leave the negativity somewhere else on this day,” said Jones. “Everyone will have to be about high energy, staying positive, being there to help one another, working together for all four quarters on both ends of the floor, and everyone has to be on the same page! If anyone decides to go rogue in the middle of a game like this. Or, if someone decides that their one idea is more important than what the team has already been continuing executing. Well, that may be all Charleston will need to spark a run.”
Mattoon’s Top Players: No players were named to the All-Tournament Team. The Green Wave has relied on Christian Larson, Taeriek Grace, and Andrew Wetzel for scoring.
Mattoon’s Team Stats: The Green Wave are averaging 49.2 points and allowing 59.8 points per game.
What Charleston Said: “To win this game at home, we need to show discipline on the defensive end and offensive end,” said Alexander. “In simpler terms, we need to fine-tune the little things of our game. We have had spurts of great basketball but we are looking to put together more consistent, disciplined play for this next game.”
What Mattoon Said: To me, a lot about this rivalry between teams and schools stands out. I met Coach Alexander over the summer and I think he is not only a great person. I believe he is also a great coach that has done an amazing job with the group he has. To take this one to Charleston and win it. It’s going to require every person that is a part of this program to be “locked In” from the moment we get together in our locker room. Ever since they played the last time in the Effingham Classic, this group has been looking forward to this game and this game, and this game only. The guys were feeling a little disconnected that day and a little sluggish, but I can guarantee that will not be the case this Friday! They have asked to get in the gym whenever they can to get up shots.”