By Mike Monahan
Charleston knocked down 10 3-pointers (six in the first half and four in the second half) to get the lead for good and went on to win 56-40 in an Apollo Conference game.
For both first year coaches it was their first experience at a Coles County Clash game.
“That gym was loud, man. Man, you couldn’t hear yourself think,” said Mattoon coach Brandon Jones. “But the kids have got to learn to play in that.”
Trailing by 9-5 after a 3-pointer by Andrew Wetzel with 3:51 left in the opening quarter, Charleston went on a 14-1 run over the next 5:12.
Will Applegate put CHS ahead 13-10 lead heading into the second quarter. The senior started the second quarter on fire, making three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt and sinking a 3-pointer to make it 19-10.
Mattoon remained within striking distance, trailing by eight midway through the second, when Charleston siblings Tyler and Caleb Oakley nailed back-to-back 3-pointers for a 32-16 CHS advantage near the end of the half.
“This is always a game we have a lot of energy in,” said Caleb Oakley. “So we didn’t need much motivation going into it. Just stick to what we did last time and we did that pretty well, and it ended up in our favor.”
CHS built on its 34-18 halftime lead by scoring eight straight points to start the second half. Caleb Oakley sank a 3-pointer for Charleston, James Hess made a basket and Brett Spour sank a 3-pointer to make it 42-18.
Mattoon didn’t get closer than the final margin of 16.
Charleston, which used a 1-2-2 trap on defense with five minutes left in the second quarter, went back to a man-to-man in the second half. This helped the Trojans in their run in the final minutes of the first half.
“We wanted to try to find a way to speed them up a little bit, but also be unpredictable,” said Charleston coach A.J. Alexander. “Maybe throw something at them that is not usually us. That was one of the cool parts. It was great to see us run it against ourselves, and now we saw it live in action and it did help us turn the tide a little bit more.”
CHS shot well through the game. At one point, the Trojans were 11-of-20 during a 13 minute span.
“I tell you what: I love it when we get hot right away to begin with,” said Alexander, whose team improved to 6-9 overall and 3-3 in the conference. “Sometimes, when that happens, we get a little trigger happy and that is what happened in the second half. We were launching them (3-pointers). You don’t need to launch them. It is a learning process. We are getting better and better with it, but I am trying to teach these guys: ‘Hey, I want you guys to let if fly.’But, at the same time, there is a red light and green light in basketball that you have to be ready for.”
Mattoon, meanwhile, struggled on offense, making only three of 17 shots during a stretch that lasted from about the middle of the first quarter to middle of the second quarter.
“Coach Alexander, being a new coach, made the adjustment of always sending a guy in and he was sucking help and he was shading him a little bit when he was coming back out and they did a really good job of executing,” said Mattoon coach Brandon Jones. “They got hot early. We hit a couple, and it seemed like we then went ice cold. I just wanted the ball to go in the basket. I don’t know if we have ever missed that many free throws (11). We put up good shots, but they just didn’t go.”
Charleston played without one of its best 3-point shooters, Luke Bonnstetter, who injured his ankle in practice prior to the game against Casey-Westfield last Tuesday.
“We started hitting 3-pointers, and it felt like we could not miss out there,” said Caleb Oakley. “They started falling and just kept falling. We even had one of our better 3-point shooters out in Luke Bonnstetter. It was a great team win and everybody played well.”
Larson led Mattoon, making three of 15 shots for 11 points.
Caleb Oakley and Applegate led the Trojans, who have now beaten Mattoon five straight times with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
“They (Will and Caleb) have been a steady force for us all season so far,” said Alexander. “However, I think their energy was the most I have seen elevated in a while. I think that was one of the biggest pieces. When they bring energy, everybody else falls in and brings the same energy. They match it. Really , I think we forget sometimes the energy we bring can be contagious. I think our energy was very contagious for all of the guys that ran in and out.”
The raucous CHS student section wore white for this rivalry game.
“I told the guys in the locker room I have never been just a part of such a fun atmosphere like this rivalry is,” said Alexander. “It was a packed house, and that was such a cool experience for the guys. And even as a coach: Man this is cool. It is a rivalry these guys have to savor, and it is a great one. The atmosphere is great, there is great energy, and you have to love great crowds.”
MATTOON: Blaine Powers 2 2-4-7, Austin Boyer 1 0-0 2, Andrew Wetzel 2 0-0-5, Christian Larson 5 1-5 11, Taerik Grace 1 0-0 2, Jackson Helms 0 0-0 0, Sawyer Kirts 0 0-0 0, Bryce Jean 3 0-0 7, Jermaine Jackson 0 0-0 0, Sean Fuentes 0 0-0 0, Colton Smith 2 1-2 6, Totals 16 3-11 40
3-point goals: 4-12 .333 (Powers 1-2, Jean 1-3, Wetzel 1-3, Larson 0-2, Smith 0-1, Grace 0-1). Rebounds: 25 (Larson 6), Turnovers: 13. Free throw shooting 3-11 .273. Bench points: 13. Total field goals: 16-42 .381
CHARLESTON: Brett Spour 2 4-4 9, Will Applegate 5 1-3 15, Langdon King 0 0-0 0, Tyler Oakley 2 0-0 6, Caleb Oakley 6 1-3 18, Cam Dunklin 0 0-0 0, Alex Kuykendall 0 0-0 0, Josh Sipes 0 0-0 0, Andrew Kuykendall 0 0-0 0, James Hess 3 2-3 8, Gavril Amartey 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 10-13 56
3-point goals: 10-23 .435 (Spour 1-2, Applegate 2-4, T. Oakley 2-4, C. Oakley 5-8, King 0-4, Siples 0-1). Rebounds: 28 (Hess 8). Turnovers: 13, Free throw shooting .769. Bench points: 8. Total field goals 18-45 .400