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MATTOON -- A holiday tournament primer for both teams, Monticello was relieved Wednesday's game got a makeup date four days after it was iced out. 

Coach David Beery wanted to see where his team stacked up. Early results weren't good, with Mattoon comfortable and leading by double digits at half.

The Sages (11-2), led by juniors Tatum McCall and Zanna Myers, shrunk Mattoon's 12-point lead to 2. It took a late third quarter push by Mattoon (13-0) to get away with a 63-53 win and stay undefeated.

"It was like we took a deep breath, exhaled, and (Mattoon) put the foot on the gas and ran off 12 straight points or something like that," Beery said.

Monticello had earned a breather for its third-quarter rally but didn't get one.

McCall scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the third quarter and Myers scored 8 of her 14 as the Sages erased Mattoon's 28-16 halftime lead.

The Sages only trailed 39-37 with a couple minutes left in the quarter.

Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt, celebrating her birthday Wednesday, didn't panic. She didn't call a timeout either. It turned out fine.

"They came out in the second half and hit a few 3s right off the bat," Aydt said of what started Monticello's run.

"We also made a run there, so I didn't want to stop the run either. (We) responded very well and did a better job on the offensive end."

From 39-37, Mattoon scored the last 8 points of the third quarter.

Sierra Thompson became an aggressor, charging into the post and getting to the free throw line for one layup and 5 of 6 free throws in the quarter.

"She did a great job going up strong and taking the ball to the basket," Aydt said.

Also, Bella Coffey made two 3-pointers in the quarter -- five overall. She finished with 17 points. Thompson scored 18 points.

With a 47-37 lead to start the fourth quarter, Monticello and Mattoon played evenly, 16-16 over the last eight minutes.

"We really wanted to play these guys," Beery said. "We know how good they are. We've played them all three years I've coached and seen them progress. It's a good measuring stick to see how we've progressed. We got all we wanted out of the game tonight, except for a win."

Alex's take

Comfortable

Mattoon got off to a good start to the game by making 7 of 12 shots in the first quarter for a 15-8 lead.

It was more of the same in the second quarter, making 5 of 10, to strike balanced scoring by halftime. 

By the game's end, four Green Wave scored in double figures -- Avery Jackson (12) and Ashlyn MacDonald (10) added to Thompson and Coffey's totals.

But in the first half, against Monticello's pressure defense, Jackson played a little quarterback. She used long passes down court and over Monticello's defense to reach streaking teammates.

"Our fast break is always our first option," Aydt said.

Monticello was not having Mattoon's luck. The Sages shot 24 percent from the floor in the first half.

Third scorer

Aydt said she knew Monticello had three players who could be top scorers -- Myers, McCall and Rachael Lockmiller.

Beery said Lockmiller wasn't as aggressive in the post as he'd hoped against Mattoon's Thompson. The Green Wave limited Monticello to two main scorers, and McCall and Myers had great stretches.

Lockmiller finished with five points on 2 of 9 shooting.

Holiday warmup

Both teams host their own holiday tournaments next week. Mattoon will look to stay undefeated, and Monticello will see how it measures up against the likes of Tuscola and Neoga.

Both tournaments start Dec. 27.

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