COAL CITY — Coal City basketball coach Brad Boresi has worked through a lean time in his relatively short tenure at the helm of the Coalers. Facing joining with a team few upperclassmen, Boresi has had to adjust his approach as he tries to build the locals back to respectability.
"We have six players who are now in their third year on the varsity," Boresi said. "For the past couple of years, I've told people that we are young and inexperienced. This year, we have a team that is upper-classed and experienced."
Those six players include seniors Jon West, Colin Anderson, Joe Micetich and Jake Aichele and juniors Nick Peters and Brennen Shetina. It will be their task to navigate the team to respectability after posting a 10-43 record over the past two years.
"We've been having good practices for the past week," Aichele said. "At the start, there were just four of us but we feel that we are going to be stronger thing year. We're feeling positive this year."
The reason for the low turnout in the early going is the extended run by the Coal City football team. That's something that teams usually bemoan, but not Boresi.
"Twelve of the 16 kids on the team were on the football team," Boresi said. "We are happy to have them coming in after a successful football season and we are hoping that success will carry over into the basketball season."
While summer basketball is not necessarily a measuring stick for the coming season, it can be used as something of a litmus test about what teams can expect heading into winter.
"We ended the summer very well," Boresi said. "We won six of the last eight games and that is good because we come in knowing we can be successful."
One of the keys to that for Boresi is for the Coalers to come out and play strong in their own Thanksgiving Tournament this year. Not only that, but to win games, too.
"We haven't won a game in our Thanksgiving Tournament for two years," Boresi said. "Starting strong will do a lot for the team. If we can come out strong, who knows what this team can do over the rest of the season."
That of course means getting through an Interstate Eight Conference schedule that looks to have a bunch of equally-matched teams on it this year.
"With the players that Seneca has back this year, I think they would be favored, but the rest of the conference is going to be competitive," Boresi said. "I'm not saying that Seneca is going to be like Herscher was last year, but overall I'm saying the I-8 is going to be balanced. Seneca will be one of the stronger teams, but I think we're going to be a top-half of the conference team this year. Our goal is to be in the top four."
Aichele says that the fact that the team has been together so long should make a difference in making that happen this winter.
"We've got five or six guys who have been playing together and people are going to be able tell that we've been playing on the varsity for three years now," he said. "The key is that we need to learn to finish games. We also want to come out strong, stay positive and do what we have to do to win."