TEUTOPOLIS -- The Mattoon boys’ basketball team had Chicago Corliss on the ropes in the first game of the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic.
The Green Wave had a 12-point lead in the third quarter and Iowa State recruit George Conditt was on the bench with four fouls.
But Corliss picked up the intensity in the fourth quarter and came all the way back to beat Mattoon 65-63.
“I thought (Corliss) raised their level a little bit, higher amount of pressure and our guards didn’t handle the ball very well,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “We turned it over way too many times down the stretch. When we get into a halfcourt offense and give ourselves a chance to shoot, we are pretty good. But when we are scrambling and throwing the ball all over the place like we did (Thursday), we aren’t going to be very successful.”
Still, the Green Wave were able to bounce back against Madison despite trailing for a good portion of the fourth quarter.
Madison missed some key free throws and Mattoon took advantage. Jacob Spitz hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left and the Green Wave recovered a loose ball to pull out a 60-59 win over Madison.
Ghere was proud that he players found a way to win the game.
“It wasn’t pretty all the time, but we found a way to win and that’s something that’s been lacking in the program for the last 20 years,” Ghere said. “We come down the stretch and do we find a way to win or do we find a way to lose? It’s nice to be on the other side of it.”
Mattoon is 5-6 on the season after Thursday’s two games.
The win over Madison means Mattoon was only about three points away from being in the top flight of the bracket at the tournament, but the loss to Corliss cost the Green Wave that chance.
Ghere was proud of how his team bounced back after a tough loss in the morning session.
“You can’t go back and redo that one. The thing I am proud of, the kids came back and fought this afternoon,” Ghere said. “We had all kinds of reasons of why we wouldn’t win. But they are tough kids, good kids and they fought back.”
Mattoon started with a 4-0 lead against Corliss when a couple of turnovers made it 4-4 when Ghere called a timeout and had a bit of a talk with his team in the huddle.
“I didn’t think we came out with much of a fight,” Ghere said. “You are playing a big-time team with a big-time player, you have to come fight. Sometimes we sell ourselves short and we don’t come into these games thinking we are going to win. That’s the biggest mentality change we have to make. Night in and night out, we can win every game we play. As soon as we get that attitude, we are going to fight for everything. I think we did that in the second and third quarters.”
Corliss went into the second quarter up 20-16. Mattoon went on an 8-3 run to take a 28-23 lead. Mattoon also got Conditt in foul trouble and he had to sit on the bench for a good portion of the second and third quarters.
“We talked about it all week that he tries to block every shot there is, so try and get him in the air and let’s make him pay for it,” Ghere said. “I thought we did a good job of that for three quarters and then we couldn’t get to him in the fourth quarter because we couldn’t get the ball across halfcourt or inside the three-point arc.”
Mattoon went into halftime up 30-28 and then opened the third quarter with a three from Jadyn Princko. That sparked an 11-3 run for the Green Wave as they went up 41-31.
Deandre Thomas had a strong first half for Mattoon and it carried over to the third quarter. He finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
But Corliss was able to contain Thomas in the fourth quarter and he fouled out with about 4 minutes left in the game.
“He looked good in the first half and was the best big-man on the floor for the first 16 minutes of the game,” Ghere said. “Then he got in foul trouble and I think he got tired toward the end. Not having him in the game the last 4 minutes really hurt for rebounding.”
Corliss went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter to make it a two-point game. Then a 9-0 run gave Corliss a 59-57 lead with 3:13 left in the game.
Mattoon went 3-of-6 from the free throw line to retake the lead at 61-59 with and traditional three-point play by Dhashon Dyson made it 62-61.
Corliss held on for the 65-63 win.
“We made some mistakes down the stretch. It’s frustrating because it’s a lot of the same mistakes that we’ve made for three, four weeks,” Ghere said. “We aren’t learning from those mistakes and it we don’t learn from them, it’s going to be a struggle down the stretch here.”
Princko added 16 points and hit four three’s for Mattoon. Justus Donaldson had 11 points.
Against Madison in the second game on Thursday, Mattoon started with a 12-5 lead when a 9-0 run gave Madison a 14-12 advantage. The two teams went into the second quarter tied at 14.
The two teams traded baskets in the second and Mattoon had a slight 28-27 edge going into halftime.
Madison started the second half with a 7-0 run to go up 34-28 but Mattoon got back-to-back buckets and Spitz later hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Green Wave a 38-37 lead.
Madison responded with an 8-0 run. Jaydon Noe ended the run with a putback and made a layup right before the buzzer to cut Madison’s lead to 45-42 going into the fourth quarter.
“We could’ve gone away when we were down by eight in the third and we just slowly got back,” Ghere said. “We went to man more in the third and fourth quarters and played pretty good man and gave ourselves a chance.”
Spitz hit a three to make it a two-point game. Then Thomas took a charge and Noe scored on a floater as Mattoon tied it at 55 with 1:30 left in the game.
Madison’s Cameron Jameson hit three of the next four free throws for a 58-55 lead with 56 seconds left, but Princko hit a runner to make it a one point game. Jameson then only made one of his next two free throws and Spitz, who finished with 21 points, hit a three to give Mattoon a 60-59 lead with 6 seconds left.
“Jacob with a big shot,” Ghere said. “We found him when we needed to and he knocked down a big shot.”
Madison drove down and called a timeout, but had a trouble handling the ball. Mattoon recovered it and held on for the 60-59 win.
“We played great defense for seven seconds, which sounds easy to do, but under the pressure it’s not,” Ghere said. “They were going to go to the rim and they never got a shot up. If you can go the last seven seconds and not get up a shot, that’s great.
“We found a way and hopefully that carries over to the next game. Start winning these close games consistently and get this program to where we win consistently. That’s where we want to be.”
Princko had 13 points and Noe added 10 points.