Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.

Mattoon committed 20 turnovers, 11 alone in the first quarter, as Lincoln’s full-court press was too much for the Green Wave to handle in a 77-25 loss to the Railsplitters on Friday evening.

“It was really tough,” Green Wave guard Ella Conyers said. “You can’t even make any mistakes. They’ll capitalize on it every time. You have to be make sure everything is perfect.”

Conyers said Lincoln’s all-state guard and finalist for the Miss Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year award, Kloe Froebe, made things difficult for Mattoon at the top of the 1-2-2 full-court press the Railsplitters ran.

“We have to be more prepared and more crisp and be ready to play,” she said. “They’re so long. Froebe on the top and getting the ball around her. It’s so difficult. You have to make a perfect pass every time. Then they capitalize if you don’t make your pass. You have to get it there. You have to be smart.”

Lincoln turned the ball over on its first possession, only one of four it committed the entire game. The Green Wave ruined it back over to the Railsplitters 20 seconds later.

The two teams tied up a loose ball shortly after with the jump ball, which went to Mattoon. The Green Wave, awarded possession at the baseline, failed to get the ball across halfcourt in time, committing its only 10-second violation of the game.

Lincoln’s Jenna Bowman took advantage of the Green Wave mistake by nailing a 3-pointer, the first of five for the junior guard, and opening the scoring for the game

Mattoon turned the ball over again as a result of Lincoln’s press. Froebe, who led all scorers with 31 points, raced towards the basket and took the outlet pass for a layup and was fouled.

“We tried slowing Kloe down and we did OK in the first half,” Mattoon girls coach Troy Haacke said. “And I thought ‘All right, everyone else is hitting 3s so let’s try man (defense), and she just took off. It’s hard to do both. If you double her, then whenever everyone else is knocking them down, then they have the whole package going.”

The all-state guard sank a free throw after coming back to the court from a Mattoon timeout. Lincoln’s Bowman sank her second three-pointer of the contest after Mattoon was called for a foot on the baseline.

Two more turnovers later and another Froebe layup, the Railsplitters had an 11-0 lead just midway through the first quarter. 

Lincoln opened the first quarter on a 21-0 before Mattoon’s Piper Sanders took a pass and drove the baseline for a contested layup, with under two minute to play, scoring the only Green Wave points of the quarter.

The Railsplitters, buoyed by their attacking defense, went into the break with a 41-11 lead with Sanders leading the Green Wave in scoring with four points.

While the Green Wave cut down the turnovers, they opened the third quarter the same way they started the game – with a turnover. Lincoln didn’t take advantage of the miscue, something that rarely happened Friday night.

Conyers, who led the Green Wave with nine points, drilled her second of three 3-pointers on the Green Wave’s second possession of the third quarter, saw whatever momentum that could have generated as a Mattoon turnover started a 14-0 Lincoln run led by Froebe’s eight points and Bowman’s five points, giving the Railsplitters an insurmountable 57-14 lead.

Lincoln was without its second-leading scorer in junior guard Becca Heitzig due to injury. But Bowman picked up where she left off, scoring 19 points.

“They’re so long on the perimeter, that we tried to bring them down to the baseline,” Haacke said. “I thought we had some looks down there, but they didn’t fall. The problem is if you go down there and miss, you can’t get back on defense. 

Lincoln’s defense created turnovers in bunches.

“That’s the way they do it,” he said. “They do it in bunches. One turnover turns into three turnovers which turns into 6-8-10 and the next thing you look up…”

“That’s what I told them. You have to take care of you and not turn the ball over. You have to make the right passes, see the floor, I know the girls felt like they were everywhere. They move with the ball so well. You watch it and pause it on film…you can see them reacting. That’s coaching.”

Haacke hopes the team can put this game behind them and focus on moving forward and getting his three shooters back on track.

“I’m hoping we can maybe put it behind us,” Haacke said. “I’m not saying that we’re not going to see good 1-2-2 presses again, but they are as about as good as anybody.”

“Our shots haven’t fallen lately,” he said. “Even since the Ttown game, Ella’s been the only one really on. We need to get all three shooters (Ella Conyers, Lily Ghere, Emily Maple) back on the same page. We’re still working on getting it to Teygen (Sewell) so she can kick it out. She tried doing that tonight, but they (shots) just didn’t fall.”

Conyers said the team just needs to stay positive.

“We just have to keep each other together,” she said. “We have to work together and stay positive. Somtimes we get down, and we get down together. We have to stay positive.”


Mattoon (9-11, 1-7) travels to Decatur MacArthur (10-10, 6-3) Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. game. The Generals are dedicating the rest of their season to foreign exchange student Ludovica Dell’Atti, who was a manager for the team. Dell’Atti passed away over Christmas break, according to the team’s social media.

“(Decatur) MacArthur has a good 1-2-2 press where they come right at you,” Haacke said. “From what I can tell, not as good as shooters (as Lincoln), but good at taking you to the basket and driving.”

Haacke said they are athletic and aggressive. 

“I’ve seen them press and it’s impressive,” he said. 

Haacke said the Green Wave need to handle their pressure, make some shots, and stop dribble penetration in order to secure a victory.


LINCOLN – Stolteznburg 1 0-1 3, Schneider 1 0-0 2, Froebe 10 10-13 31, Bowman 7 0-0 19, Whiteman 3 1-2 10, Geruts 2 0-1 4, Clark 2 0-0 6, Knapp 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers: Stoltzenburg 1, Froebe 1, Bowman 5, Whiteman 3, Clark 2. Totals: 37 11-17 77.

MATTOON – Ghere 1 0-0 2, Maple 2 1-3 5, Sanders 2 0-0 4, Masse 1 0-0 3, Larson 0 0-1 0, Powers 1 0-0 2, Conyers 3 0-0 9. 3-pointers: Masse 1, Conyers 3. Totals: 10 1-4 25.