BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington High School basketball team did assert itself Friday at the Robert Frank Sports Complex.
But Purple Raiders' coach Ron Rose isn't afraid to admit he was starting to wonder.
BHS did not take its first lead since 2-0 until the fourth quarter before pulling away for a 61-52 Big 12 Conference victory over Mattoon.
"There was a point when it was nine or 10 points (behind), when you're waiting for us to lock down and get a few stops and execute offensively," Rose said. "Fortunately, we did."
On Senior Night, the Raiders improved to 18-6 overall and 10-2 in the Big 12.
"It was a lack of focus. We were so excited about senior game, we got so wrapped up in each other rather than the game," said junior forward Lonnie Lawrence, who paced BHS with 18 points and 11 rebounds. "The fourth quarter we just realized playing together always wins the game. We started passing the ball more and started locking down on defense."
Mattoon (5-15, 2-10) enjoyed a 25-14 second-quarter lead while hitting 11 of its first 16 shots.
"Mattoon took control early and shot the ball real well," Rose said. "I wasn't real pleased with our defense the first quarter, giving up 20 points. We did a little better job the second quarter. We knew Mattoon wasn't going to beat themselves. We had to make plays to win."
BHS trailed 30-26 at the half and moved within one in the third quarter before the Green Wave's Blake Cutright nailed two consecutive 3-pointers to extend the visitors' lead back to nine at 42-33.
"I felt like the first half we did a pretty good job taking care of their perimeter play," Mattoon coach Bob Lockhart said. "The major difference in the second half was Lawrence and others getting to the offensive glass and getting second-chance opportunities.
"And in key moments when they needed it, (Cory) Hainlen really stepped up at the offensive end."
Hainlen scored seven of his 13 points in the third quarter to help BHS close within 42-41 entering the final quarter.
A Justin Bocot 3-pointer gave the Raiders a 44-43 edge with 6:55 remaining, and two straight Lawrence baskets pushed the BHS lead to five. Mattoon got back to a 50-48 deficit before five Lawrence points and a Hainlen basket handed the Raiders a nine-point cushion.
"I thought Lonnie was really active offensively. I'm thrilled our kids recognized Lonnie was open and was doing a good job finishing," said Rose. "I thought Cory really did a nice job. He was very aggressive offensively and was making good decisions.
"And without question, it was D'Mitri Riggs' best varsity game of the year."
Bocot had 12 points and Riggs eight as BHS shot 43.6 percent from the field (24 of 55) and outrebounded Mattoon, 32-28.
Jason Hortenstine topped the Green Wave with 13 points, Ryan Bradley added 11 and Adam Heuerman had 10.
Mattoon committed 23 turnovers and hurt its fourth-quarter comeback attempt by missing six of 10 free throws.