MATTOON – It appears a 10-day rest was all Mattoon needed to search for some solutions and discover some methods to replace injured starting point guard Meade Johnson.
The Green Wave can understand this, even if the needed offensive clarity and a surge of confidence came in a loss. They awoke from a first-quarter slumber that saw a 15-point deficit, displayed a balanced offense and produced a captivating, thrilling game. They tossed the ball in the post to Sam Bradbury. Their guards found driving lanes and openings around the basket. They stuck forward Mason Wright at point guard, and it worked.
Turns out, they still have some potency without a key piece. But in the end, an impressive effort came up a hair short.
Mattoon lost to Pana 73-72 in double overtime Tuesday night, its first game since playing in the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic. Pana hung 24 points on Mattoon in the first quarter, with five 3-pointers, an early punch the Green Wave absorbed just fine. They allowed 28 total points in the final three quarters of regulation. Pana’s offensive rut and Mattoon’s defensive tenacity created an opening. The Green Wave burst through it and nearly snatched a win.
"This one hurts," Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. "We battled back. Had a terrible start, and they hit everything they shot. But you have to give our guys credit."
Jonah Lauff, who needled Mattoon all night with his jumper, made a 3-pointer with 2:20 left in the second overtime to give Pana a 68-65 lead. Here, six and a half minutes of a wonderful back-and-forth ended when Mattoon could not score on the other end. Matthew Lamb stretched Pana’s lead to five points with a pair of free throws with 1:31 left.
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Lauff ended the night with 28 points and five 3-pointers. He sparked Pana’s 24-point first quarter with a pair of early 3s and delivered the decisive shot at the end. Two open 3-pointers for Mattoon in the final 20 seconds didn’t fall.
Dalton Compton’s layup off a cut with nine seconds in the first overtime left gave Mattoon a 63-61 lead. He caught a pass from Josiah Morton and had nothing but the hoop in front of him. The basket was the final one of an overtime period that saw eight lead changes and two ties. Here, the Green Wave leaned on their guards and jump shooting. Cam’Ron Thomas scored Mattoon’s first six points of overtime. Wright made a 3-pointer.
Andrew Ambrose, who scored 25 points for Pana, made a layup with 1.8 seconds left to force a second overtime.
Compton led Mattoon with 22 points. Bradbury and Josiah Morton added 14 each. Thomas had 13. Wright had nine points.
Wright’s free throw with 39 seconds left in regulation gave Mattoon its first lead, 52-51, since the opening minutes. Lauff drew a foul on Pana’s ensuing possession and went 1-for-2 from the free throw line to tie the score at 52 with 27 seconds left. No one scored for the rest of regulation.
Morton’s transition layup with 4:02 left in the game capped a 10-0 run and tied the score at 46, taking advantage of Pana turnovers and open jumpers that wouldn’t fall.
Pana led 32-19 at halftime.
The Green Wave dropped to 5-9 this year.
Contact Patrick Engel at 217-238-6856. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickEngel_