With senior center Jon West leading the way with 21 points, the Coal City Coalers notched their fourth win on Saturday against Rockford Christian High School by a score of 42-40 in the Plano Christmas Classic.
After rolling out to a 13-5 lead in the first quarter, the Coalers were able to endure a six-minute plus scoreless drought that lasted most of the first, and part of the second, quarters. A West 18-footer ended Coal City’s dry spell, but with Rockford Christian’s Alec Mabie in foul trouble, the Lions were still able to close out the first half with a 27-24 lead.
“If our bigs don’t win the matchup, we’re not gonna win the game,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “And I feel like, when we play another team that has talented post players, that benefits us more and creates better matchups for us.”
Mabie led the Lions with 16 points on the day, despite riding the pine for large portions of the day with two fouls early in the second quarter, while senior guard Jacob Dachman pitched in 15 points. For Coal City, junior point guard Brennen Shetina followed up West’s 21-point performance with 11 points and an astounding 15 rebounds of his own.
Shetina also dished out three assists on the day as Coal City’s distributor.
“I don’t mind (being a distributor). I’ll play whatever role they want me too, dishing or scoring. It doesn’t matter as long as we win,” Shetina said. “Our guards mostly do a good job of getting (our post players) the ball when they’re open, and I feel like our guards can create our own shots when we need to, but if we can get them the ball every time, that’d be fine.”
Coming out of the half, Coal City got a quick bucket from Shetina on a set play that cut Rockford’s lead to one, but Mabie was able to fight through foul trouble to reassert the Lions’ lead and a bucket with a foul by Rockford’s Aaron Williams gave them a six point lead.
Coal City was able to cut the lead to four just before the third period ended, and in the fourth quarter, the Coalers really buckled down defensively.
“In the first half, our defense was below average, but we came out in the second half and held them to 13 points,” Boresi said
Not only did the Coalers hold Rockford Christian to 13 second-half points, they stifled the Lions primarily in the fourth quarter and held them to just two points. That was thanks in large part to the defense of senior forward Nick Peters and his six block shots on the day.
“His rebounding, and actually altering some shots in the second half, was pretty good,” Boresi said. “Credit to (Nick) for turning it on. I kinda went over some stuff at halftime, and we were able to make some adjustments and he did a great job in that second half.”
Coming out of the third intermission, Coal City was able to tie the game at 38 when West hit a jumper from the elbow. West would wind up going 10 for 13 from the field on the day, as Coal City shot nearly 48 percent from the field in total.
“I just did what I thought I was capable of out there. I came out ready to play,” West said. “We get a few days off now (for Christmas) and our morals are definitely up now so we’re gonna come ready to play (on Wednesday).”
After finally retaking the lead off a pair of free throws by Shetina after a Rockford player was given a technical foul, the Lions were able to tie the game at 40 with 23.3 seconds remaining when Dachman hit a driving layup.
That setup a final possession for Coal City, and off a set pay, senior guard Joe Micetich dropped a bucket from the right block with 2.4 seconds left to give the Coalers the lead and the win.
“That’s exactly what we wanted. We work on it in practice, and we were hoping to use it the other night against Sandwich, and we couldn’t,” Coach Boresi said. “They extended pressure, and I think they wanted to make sure we got it in the backcourt. I was ready to burn another timeout if I had to. We were ready to run some clock, but by the time Brennen got to the point, we got right into our set. Joe did a great job of finding the opening and Brennen found him.”