PLANO — After starting off 2-1 in the tournament’s first three days, the Coal City Coalers squared off with a familiar opponent on Saturday for 11th place in the Plano Christmas Classic. Playing in front of their home crowd, the Plano Reapers beat the Coalers 59-35 and handed them their second 24-point loss in as many days.
The two teams match up every year in the Interstate Eight Conference, but the 15th-seeded Reapers looked like they were in a league of their own on Saturday afternoon as they jumped out to an 18-2 lead to start the game. Junior forward Jon McDermott of Plano scored six of his eight points in that first period while going on to add nine rebounds and three block shots for the day.
The Reapers would close out the first quarter with a 23-8 advantage over the Coalers, and they would extend that lead to 37-15 at the end of the first half. They did so by knocking down 64 percent of their shots from the field in the half and limiting Coal City to just 21 percent shooting.
“It’s tough to keep them focused,” Coal City head coach Brad Boresi said of starting off in a large hole. “With that aside I thought we did a much better job coming out in the third quarter. We went on a nice little and showed a little sign of life. You just can’t expect to not be ready to play at the beginning of the game and keep it competitive.”
That “little run” Boresi spoke of was a 7-0 run to start the third quarter that cut Plano’s lead to 15. Senior center Nick Peters chipped in a pair of buckets during that stretch and wound up finishing the game with 16 points and eight rebounds. He was impressed that his team came out and battled back early in the second half.
“Coming out of the half, we knew we needed to get stops on defense,” Peters said. “We obviously needed to execute better offensively, but the main thing was that they were getting a lot of open looks.”
Peters led the Coalers in scoring and averaged 13.2 points per game for the tournament, and also had 18 blocked shots in the five games Coal City played.
“It’s not all me. I get to come to help and if I’m lucky I might get some blocked shots, but a lot of times those blocked shots come because they can’t dish it off,” Peters said. “But, it’s always nice to get some blocked shots.”
At one point early in the fourth quarter, a Peters bucket was able to cut Coal City’s deficit to 12 points, but that was as close as the Coalers would get. The Coalers were only able to improve slightly on their first-half shooting woes and finished the afternoon shooting 24 percent from the field while Plano would finish its day at 59 percent.
However, with the Coalers and Reapers set to square off again during the conference season, Coal City hopes they’ll be able to learn from this and get redemption.
“It’s tough to play someone you’re familiar with, but at the same time it’s nice because we know we’ll get the chance to see him again,” Boresi said. “Luckily, we’ll have that chance to get back at them later in the year.”
“It’s always a good thing to have another shot whenever you lose to a team,” Peters added. “I want the chance to try to play them again and try to beat them.”