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Third Degree

WILMINGTON — Coal City attempted 27 fewer field goals than Peotone Thursday but managed to win 48-44 in the third-place game of the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament at Wilmington.

Turnovers — the Lady Coalers had 21 to Peotone's 12 — and Peotone offensive rebounds helped give the Blue Devils a large number of extra chances. But while Coal City made over 45 percent of its attempts (16-of-35) from the field, the Blue Devils made just 17 of their 62.

The outcome still could have been different had the Lady Coalers not made eight free throws, in 12 attempts, in the final 1:28. Peotone attempted, and missed, just one foul shot during that time.

"We did enough at the free-throw line to withstand what (Peotone) did," Coal City coach Brad Schmitt said. "(Peotone coach Steve Strough) made an adjustment in the fourth quarter and we had trouble adjusting to what they were doing and it really got tight ... (Peotone) never gave up and it turned into a good battle."

A "good battle" may have seemed unlikely when an Emily Halliday three-pointer gave Coal City a 40-30 lead early in the fourth quarter. Peotone made it a reality by holding the Lady Coalers scoreless over the next 5:56 and tying the game. Kayla Paeth made three baskets during the stretch, including a fast-break layup to tie the game with 1:41 to play.

Two Halliday free throws finally ended the drought for Coal City, and she and Donjeta Shabani combined to go 3-for-6 at the line in three trips as the Lady Coalers took a 45-42 lead.

Then disaster nearly struck for Coal City. Halliday blocked a two-point try by Peotone's Brittany Campione, but Campione grabbed the rebound and drew a foul while making a short basket with 6.3 seconds to play. The potential tying free throw missed, however, and one made free throw from Shabani and two from Nicole Borgetti iced the win for the Lady Coalers.

"It felt good," Borgetti said of making both attempts for a four-point lead, "especially because we've had that happen to us in this tournament before. Against Plano (a 45-41 loss Monday), we had a nine-point lead and didn't hold it."

Borgetti helped give the Lady Coalers another nine-point lead by the end of the first quarter Thursday. She made two three-pointers as Coal City, behind a 7-for-10 shooting performance, went ahead 17-8. By halftime, that lead was gone, and the Lady Coalers trailed 24-22.

"We stressed getting ahead and staying ahead. It wasn't easy, but we made stops and got it done," Borgetti said. "In the beginning, we were hitting shots, but what saved us was our defense. There were times in the game where we would have (offensive) droughts. If it wasn't for our defense, those could have cost us."

The Lady Coalers were seeded third and finished there. Also Thursday, No. 2 Plano upset No. 1 Lisle 33-32 in the championship.

"It was definitely a positive," Schmitt said of the tournament. "I thought going in that there were four clear favorites (Coal City, Lisle, Peotone and Plano) and each of us had a chance to win a championship. We knew before tonight it wouldn't be us, but I'm proud of us coming out and finishing third."

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