EFFINGHAM — Friday’s games at the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas tournament for the Mattoon and Charleston boys basketball teams were about learning how to win.
For Mattoon, the Green Wave learned how to win a game to open the day with a 68-58 victory over Chicago Brooks and then Mattoon learned how to finish a game, holding onto a fourth-quarter lead and defeating Effingham 60-49 to claim fifth place at the tournament.
Charleston dropped its first game of the day against Madison but picked up a 71-63 win over Antioch to finish in 11th place at the tournament.
Mattoon finishes 5th
Mattoon came into the day with a 5-6 record. The Green Wave is leaving in fifth place and a 7-6 record after claiming fifth place at the Christmas Classic.
“It’s big. Fifth place is great. We went 3-1 at the tournament, and our only loss was to Chicago Corliss, who is playing in the championship — and we lost by 2,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “I think we are getting better every game. We are taking care of the ball, we share the ball. I thought down the stretch, we showed some toughness. Four games in two days, but our guys sucked it up and found a way to get it done.”
Against Effingham, Mattoon didn’t score until the 3:48 mark of the first quarter. But the Flaming Hearts only had 2 points up to that point, so the Green Wave tied the game and later went into the second quarter with an 11-10 lead.
Mattoon started the second quarter with a 9-2 run to gain a 20-12 lead. Effingham cut into the lead a little bit as Mattoon went into halftime with a 28-25 lead.
Landon Wolfe did most of the damage for Effingham. He scored 32 points, but Mattoon limited what the rest of the Flaming Hearts could do throughout the game.
“It’s hard to say a kid scores 32 and you did a good job on him, but I think we did,” Ghere said. “I think he had to shoot two-thirds of their shots.”
Effingham went on a 5-0 run to start the third quarter to take a 30-25 lead, but DeAndre Thomas made a free throw and a layup to put Mattoon back up 31-30. It started an 11-1 run for Mattoon for a 39-31 lead and the Green Wave went into the fourth quarter with a 47-38 advantage.
Effingham cut the lead to five points to begin the fourth quarter when Mattoon scored the next five points to go up 52-42. Then Effingham cut it to seven points, but Mattoon came back with a 6-0 run to go up 58-45 with 2:03 left.
“That’s guys stepping up and hitting shots,” Ghere said. “We would come down and hit a 3 and our guys in the post played well. We are a balanced attack, we have five or six guys that can score. You saw us spread the ball around a little bit, unselfish, take good shots and make them.”
Effingham tried for another run and cut the game to nine points, but the Flaming Hearts couldn’t get any closer as Mattoon went on to win 60-49 to finish in fifth place.
“We talked about it going into the fourth quarter, we’ve been in this position up 9 or 10 going into the fourth and we didn’t hold the lead either time,” Ghere said. “I said good, quality possessions on offense and make stops and rebounds on defense. Other than a couple of possessions in the fourth quarter, we played really well.”
Justus Donaldson had 14 points in the win and Jaydon Noe and Jacob Spitz each had 12 points.
Mattoon’s first game of the day was neck and neck throughout the first half of the first game of the day at the Christmas Classic against Chicago Brooks. Mattoon trailed 13-12 after the first quarter, and the two teams only combined for 12 points in the second quarter as Brooks held onto a 19-18 lead.
But the Mattoon had its best quarter in regulation with 19 points in the third, and the Green Wave went on to build a 9-point lead with 6 minutes left.
But Brooks chipped away at the lead and a couple of 3s later tied the game. Brooks wound up taking a 51-49 lead in the final minute when DeAndre Thomas scored to tie the game with 13 points.
Brooks was unable to get a shot off as Mattoon forced a turnover and the Green Wave just missed a reverse layup, but the Green Wave managed to send the game into overtime instead of losing.
Mattoon dominated the extra period. Jacob Spitz hit a couple of 3-pointers to give the Green Wave a cushion and Mattoon outscored Brooks 17-7 in overtime to get the 68-58 win and to land in the fifth-place game.
It’s the second straight game – Mattoon earned a tight win over Madison on Thursday – where the Green Wave found a way to win. But it’s also the second time the Green Wave has blown at least a 9-point lead in this tournament.
“That’s the big thing and we’ve played good teams,” Ghere said. “We are getting better. This is good for us, it’s going to help us in the second half of the season. We are finding ways to win games, but now we have to find ways to put gamers away in the fourth quarter when we are up 9 or 10. Baby steps, one thing at a time.”
Ghere put all of the blame on him for the team losing a 9-point lead in the fourth quarter. Ghere said he switched things up too much.
“I probably over-coached a little bit. In the fourth quarter, we changed up defenses a lot where we played man (defense) a lot in the first half and we went back to man in overtime,” Ghere said. “The kids, they have faced adversity this season and have kept battling. A lot of kids will have their heads down after giving up a lead, but our kids in the huddle, they said that it’s free basketball. They stepped up. Good possessions on defense in overtime.”
The Green Wave took better care of the ball against Brooks than it has in the past. Mattoon had 22 turnovers in a loss to Chicago Corliss on Thursday, but had only eight in the second game against Madison and had 13 turnovers against Brooks.
“The best thing is, the three teams we’ve played in this tournament have pressured us most of the game,” Ghere said. “Our guards are getting a challenge to handle the ball under pressure for 32 minutes every game.”
Jadyn Princko led Mattoon with 28 points, Donaldson had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Spitz finished with 11 points. Thomas had 7 points and eight rebounds.
Charleston finishes in 11th place
Eleventh place may not seem like an achievement, but finishing in 11th place at the Christmas Classic allowed Charleston a chance to breathe a bit.
After losing three close games, including one to Madison to start Friday, the Trojans were looking for a way to salvage the two-day tournament.
The Trojans were able to pick up a much-needed win in the 11th place game when Charleston defeated Antioch 71-63.
“Not only getting a win in the last one, we lost all of our games by 8 points or less and we were in all of our games in the last two minutes, we just didn’t find a way to close,” Charleston coach Blain Mayhall said. “That’s the best any Charleston team has ever played from one game to the last game throughout this tournament. For that, I can take some positives away.”
The Trojans wasted little time against Antioch. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Darrell Phillips, who finished with 28 points, and Luke Buescher gave the Trojans a 9-0 lead.
Charleston set the tone with transition baskets and also had some good looks through its half-court offense.
“We decided to set the pace. We didn’t care about what they were going to do, we wanted to set the pace, in half-court and full court and dictate what would happen,” Mayhall said. “It hurt us at times, too, because we got a little tired. But I thought we had to start out that way and set the tone because that’s the way we want to play.”
Charleston went into the second quarter with a 24-15 lead, but the offense started to slow down. But the Trojans got a boost from Blake Bonnstetter, who came off the bench and hit four 3-pointers in the quarter as Charleston went into halftime with a 40-32 lead.
Bonnstetter finished the game with seven 3s, which tied the tournament record. He scored 21 points in the game.
“He did a great job. It’s nice to see because he’s been on and off with his minutes and maybe not getting some of the minutes he’s used to getting,” Mayhall said. “But he doesn’t pout about it and comes in, does what he is supposed to do. That’s the sign of a great teammate.”
Antioch did cut Charleston’s lead to four points at 47-43 in the third quarter when Charleston went on an 8-0 run. Phillips scored 6 of those points and he hit four free throws during the run, which gave Charleston a 55-43 lead.
“Getting it back to (double digits) against is psychological for both teams,” Mayhall said. “It gets you going and it deflates them. Basketball is a game of runs like that.”
Antioch responded with a 6-0 run at the end of the third quarter and then opened the fourth with back-to-back buckets to make it a 2-point game at 58-56 with 6:48 left.
The Trojans held Antioch to only 7 more points in the game and came back with a 7-0 run to make it 65-56. Charleston went on to win 71-63.
“We mixed up the defenses a bit, and the guys did a nice job with that,” Mayhall said. “It was nice for our boys to adjust and listen a little bit and actually do the things they were supposed to do.”
The final day of the Christmas Classic seemed to get off to a decent start for the Trojans as they held onto a slight 14-12 lead against Madison at Teutopolis High School.
But the Trojans struggled offensively in the second quarter, scoring only 5 points, which allowed Madison to grab a 23-19 lead going into halftime.
Charleston started to find its offense again in the third quarter with 16 points, but the Trojans couldn’t get the stops on the defensive end as Madison scored 17 points in the third. Charleston scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, but so did Madison as the Trojans fell 63-58 to Madison. That loss dropped Charleston to the 11th place game.
Luke Buescher led Charleston with 12 points, and Caleb Hurst had 12 points.