MAHOMET -- It was the simple things that hurt Mattoon in the Class 3A regional opener against Rantoul on Monday at Mahomet-Seymour High School.
One, the Green Wave didn’t make enough of their layups. Two, Mattoon didn’t rebound well enough, which was evident by Rantoul’s 12 second chance points in the second half. Three, the Green Wave didn’t shoot well enough from the free throw line. Mattoon was 7-of-15 from the line, including 2-of-6 in the fourth quarter and the Green Wave missed the front end of three 1-and-1 opportunities.
All three of those elements were crucial because Mattoon only lost the regional game against Rantoul by three points, 57-54, to end the Green Wave’s season.
“Missed opportunities. We missed a lot of free throws, putbacks and then loose balls around the rim that (Rantoul) scored on. We missed some layups, five or six that I counted,” Mattoon's coach Ryan Ghere said. “I thought we played hard, worked hard like we did all season. Sometime it just doesn’t bounce your way and tonight is one of those nights."
Ghere continued on explaining why the team's season ended on Monday.
“I don’t think we played our best game in our last game and that’s always frustrating. Can’t fault our effort.”
Mattoon finishes with an 11-16 record in what was a difficult season for the Green Wave. Ghere was promoted from assistant coach to head coach eight days before the first game after Josh Forsythe was relieved of duties.
Mattoon graduates seniors Camdyn Considine, Justus Donaldson and Deandre Thomas.
“It’s a good senior group. They faced a year of adversity. It’s been a tough school year with all of the stuff inside and outside the building. That’s weighed on everybody,” Ghere said. “The one thing about it is they bought in and did what we asked them to do. That’s tough as a 17-year old we’ve you done a system and one way and have someone change a few things. They competed every night and showed up and battled.
“Maybe we didn’t always play well or make the best decisions, but effort-wise, every night we brought the effort.”
Thomas led Mattoon with 17 points and was 8-of-10 from the field. Jadyn Princko and Jacob Spitz each scored 13 points in the loss. Spitz hit four three-pointers.
“We tried to get the ball into Deandre and we forced it to him when he wasn’t open and other times when I thought he was open, I don’t think we got it to him,” Ghere said. “(Rantoul) puts a lot of pressure on you. They get up and guard you and double-team you and make you make decisions. We didn’t make very good decisions at times and sometimes we did and just didn’t get the payoff at the end.”
Rantoul got off to a 10-0 lead and were up 15-5 when the Eagles were held scoreless in the final three minutes of the quarter. Mattoon cut Rantoul’s lead to 15-10 going into the second.
A Spitz three and a Thomas layup tied the game at 20 when Jametriel Hudson hit back-to-back three-pointers for Rantoul.
Mattoon went on a 7-0 run to take the lead at 27-26 and the two teams went into halftime tied at 29.
Rantoul hit the first shot of the second half when Mattoon went on a 6-0 run for a 35-31 lead. The Eagles later came back with a 7-0 run to take a 42-38 lead and were up 45-40 going into the fourth quarter.
Mattoon opened the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run to go up 48-47 with 4:57 left, but were held scoreless for the next 4 ½ minutes as Rantoul went on a 5-0 run to go back up 52-48.
Rantoul had a 52-50 lead with about a minute left when the Eagles missed a free throw, but they got the rebound and were fouled later. Kamryn Rome hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Spitz hit a three-pointer to make it 56-53 and Mattoon got the ball back and the Green Wave went to the free throw line. Justus Donaldson only hit 1-of-2 free throws, so it was a two-point Rantoul lead until Rome hit a free throw with 4 seconds left to make it 57-54.
Mattoon got a half-court shot by Princko, but it was short. Therefore, Rantoul won 57-54.