Koller basketball

Mahomet-Seymour High School’s Luke Koller drives for the basket as the Bulldogs played Normal U-High on Dec. 21, 2019.

MAHOMET — It’s time. The Bulldogs have been searching for a signature victory under Ryan Bosch. They certainly earned an impressive victory over Effingham on Tuesday when they came from behind on the road to gut out a win. But they can get a huge one today if they can beat state-ranked Lincoln.

Here are three takeaways from the strong play that M-S has showcased over the last week.

M-S displays winning formula in comeback victory over Effingham

Most teams who lead by 13 points in the third quarter are golden. Effingham probably thought that they’d be able to cruise to a conference win over M-S. But the Bulldogs had different plans.

The 17-2 run was the real reason the Bulldogs pulled out the victory. But it symbolized something else. It proved that M-S has the pieces in place to compete with anyone on any floor.

They have the star in Grant Coleman — he’s scored in a flurry of ways all season long. His deep threes and ability to get to the foul line make him such a tough matchup.

Braden Finch is a do-it-all combo guard/forward. Sometimes, the inconsistencies can be hard to deal with, but when Finch is good, he’s one of the best players in the conference.

6-foot-2 senior forward Kobe Essien is steady, reliable and athletic. Senior guard Cole Lener is an elite defender and does all the dirty work, and junior guard Eli Warren has morphed into one of the top offensive weapons on the team.

The bench is filled with size and versatility.

When M-S buys into defense and rebounding, they can be really good. They proved that in the second-half comeback against Effingham. They crushed the Flaming Hearts on the board, and they shut down their offense. Then, they attacked the rim and got to the charity stripe on the other end (24 free throw attempts). 16 assists is a terrific number too.

M-S has played a tough schedule this year, and they’ve rarely been waxed off the floor. But the formula they showcased in the second half against Effingham can win them a ton of games down the stretch.

Backcourt rounding into form

With Coleman, Essien and Finch patrolling the frontcourt, it’s easy to focus on just that. But the play from Lener and Warren in the backcourt has been really good. Warren and Lener combined for nine assists in the victory over Effingham. They weren’t just dishing out the ball either. They scored 21 points too. Lener and Warren have also bought-in on the defensive end. Lener has been the defensive leader from the start, but Warren’s begun to find his groove defensively too. Lener had three big steals in the Effingham win, while Warren swiped two.

Coleman and Finch will have the biggest targets on their backs, but if Lener and Warren continue their strong play, they can really punish teams that happen to forget about them.

The biggest game of the Bosch era

When Lincoln comes to town today, you could easily say it’s the biggest game that M-S has had in the last year and a half. Lincoln is the powerhouse, coached by the legend Neil Alexander. He owns over 800 career wins, and he’s already in the Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, Bosch is in his second year at the helm of Mahomet-Seymour. Both teams are undefeated in the Apollo Conference. The conference championship won’t be won today. But M-S can make a big-time statement if they can claw out a victory.

They have the pieces to beat Lincoln. There should be a monster crowd. The Bulldogs will be amped up. If they play their game, there’s no reason why they can’t dethrone Alexander and the Railsplitters.