The Regional Championship is set between Mattoon and Effingham. For the fourth time this season, Mattoon made it past Olney. Beating anyone three or four times in the same season is difficult. Mattoon made it work, but the question will be can Effingham?
The Hearts have swept the season series so far this year but both games were close contests. Effingham defeated Mattoon 45-40 on December 8th and 50-46 on January 26th. Winning a third time could be a matter of one possession, which excites head coach Troy Haacke.
“Last time we played them we struggled to score in the first half,” said Haacke. “Played a much better second half and dug ourselves out of a hole. We have been talking about playing all four quarters and not having a bad quarter. That will be huge for us. Staying out of foul trouble will also be key.”
Mattoon enters the contest with a 14-16 overall record while the Heats are 20-10. Both teams finished with a below .500 record in the Apollo Conference.
A winnable game with the addition of it being home will be nice. Haacke feels the team is playing their best basketball right now, which is perfect for a quality 20-win opponent waiting for a chance to win their ninth Regional Championship under head coach Jef Schafer.
“We played really well against Olney,” said Haacke. “We play our best ball when we move the ball and play together and get out and run the floor. Effingham is a very solid team, they play great defense, run an offense that’s always moving, and have many shooters that can knock down the three.”