Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
With the postseason right around the corner, Charleston and Mattoon wrapped up their regular season with the two girls squads meeting at Baker Gym for one last tilt in which the Green Wave defeated the Trojans, 72-17.
Ella Conyers led the Green Wave with 13 points, three from behind the arc, while Charleston’s Megan Myerscough led the Trojans with six points.
“We talked before the game that this was the last chance to play on the court this year, and, for some, this could be their last,” Charleston girls coach Shani Iberg said. “You don’t know, injury-wise as an example, to come out hard and to put your heart on your sleeve. We did. They came out strong and then we kind of let up some steam. We’re proud of the start. We’ve talked a lot this year about fourth quarters and finish the game the same. All in all this year, we’ve seen so many improvements on this team. It makes everyone around this team excited for the future.”
The Trojans have been beset by injuries this year starting with losing team captain Ally Logsdon with a meniscus tear that ended her junior season before it began to this week where two players have broken noses and another has a concussion – which has left Charleston to play underclassmen with little to no varsity experience.
Iberg said the team has won several ‘small victories’.
“They are showing they have desire; they have heart working through hard times,” she said. “We’ve talked about the skills and things they are learning now and how it can help them grow in the future. We’re getting small victories, for example.”
“We really worked on them in practice the last couple of days. So seeing them put it out here, that’s huge. That’s something to celebrate and praise them for.”
CHS had considered canceling the varsity schedule at one point this season in favor of a junior-varsity schedule so the players would not post defeats by such large margins against larger, experienced squads. Iberg worried that experience might erode their interest.
“We didn’t want to repeat the same year over and over with kids losing interest,” Iberg said. “The girls said ‘no, we want to play. These girls are playing two games a night except for tonight because I had some injuries come up this week with broken noses and concussion. With 17 original players, we have nine right now. I think it says a lot to come out and play two tough games. It’s hard. They have heart. It’ll help them in the future.”
For Logsdon, it’s been a change to contribute in a different way.
“It’s been hard,” Iberg said. “Especially for Ally (Logsdon). She’s competitor. Sitting on the bench has been very hard for her. But it’s also taught her a different side of the game in teaching others. She’s probably the loudest person the gym when she’s yelling. She does a gerast job of keeping our spirits up. She’s always giving nice insights which is nice to have someone else on the bench to do that. She sees more than I can see. She’s almost been a coach with us. We trust her with that She’s done well with it, and it’s been fun to see her grow in that, too.”
The ninth-seeded Trojans face a tough task in next week’s regional, facing second-seeded Effingham on Monday in the opening round.
“It’s been a true team (effort),” she said. “They have come so far. One practice will be gosh where has this girls come from? The next game it’s another girl. They’re all starting to develop. It’s been fun to see them blossom. We are as coaching staff are excited to see them in the future considering the growth they’ve had this season.”
Mattoon coach Troy Haacke said his players got off to a slow start against the Trojans so he inserted some JV players, who started a spark that the varsity girls continued when they returned in the second quarter.
The third-seeded Green Wave will face fifth-seeded Olney on Monday evening after the Charleston regional game, for the fourth time this season where the Green Wave have a perfect 3-0 record against the Tigers.
“This will be the fourth time facing Olney,” Haacke said. “There shouldn’t be problems or secrets from either team. They’re built like us with guards that can shoot. They have a nice athletic forward that will drive to the basket as well. We have to get to them first. We have to play defense. We have to talk about some of the things they did to us. If we shoot well, and go inside out, as always we’re better when the ball goes to Teygen and she moves back out. Our girls have been putting the ball on the floor lately and getting to the rim a little bit which is nice that changes how teams play us a little bit.”
MATTOON: Ghere 5 1-1 12, Maple 5 1-4 13, Sanders 1 2-2 4, Lathrop 1 0-0 2, Masse 4 0-0 10, Larson 4 0-0 8, Powers 3 0-0 6, Conyers 5 0-0 13, Sewell 1 0-0 2, Holderson 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers: Ghere 1, Maple 2, Masse 2, Conyers 3. Totals: 30 4-7 72.
CHARLESTON: Okrasinski 1 0-0 3, Iovino 1 2-7 4, Myerscough 2 2-4 6, Wanek-Clementi 1 0-0 2, Logsdon 1 0-2 2. 3-pointers: Okrasinki 1. Totals: 6 4-13 17.