COAL CITY — There were a couple of times during Friday night's Interstate Eight Conference Tournament game between Coal City and visiting Sandwich where the game hinged in the balance.
Both times the hosting Coalers repelled an Indians onslaught and rode to a 52-40 win in a league play-in game.
With the win — the fifth straight by the locals — the Coalers will play against Lisle at Reed-Custer at 4 p.m.
"We've turned things around," Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. "We made some lineup adjustments and that has helped get us going in the right direction."
After the 50th annual Plano Christmas Classic, Coal City was 5-8, but it has since won five in a row. The Coalers done it by learning to hold off the opposition like they did on Friday.
Early at the start of the second quarter, the Coalers led 14-6 when the Indians made three straight baskets to make it a one-point game.
"We took advantage of their foul trouble early on but then they put in a shooter and he knocked 'em down," Coal City senior Joe Micetich said. "But once we adjusted and buckled down, we were fine."
At halftime, Coal City led 24-19, but after Brennan Shetina (11 points) scored at the onset of the second half, Sandwich's Daulton Murphy hit back to back three-point field goals to make it 26-25. That, however, was the beginning of the end as the Coalers went on a 12-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter.
"At halftime coach Boresi told us we had to play more solid defense," Coal City junior forward Lane Cowherd said. "At that point we just had to get out on their shooters. Once we tightened that up, we had no problems."
Another key to the run was that four different players scored in that stretch.
"I like to see that," Micetich said. "Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to win a game."
Nick Peters led the Coalers with 13 points which was ahead of Shetina. Cowherd also added nine points and Micetich eight.
"All five guys on the floor for us are capable of scoring," Boresi said.
"We're always working to find the open man," Cowherd said. "We're not a selfish team."
Which is why the Coalers are moving on to play a winner's bracket game at Reed-Custer.
"We didn't get the seed we wanted, but it's always nice to play at home in front of the fans," Micetich said of getting to open the tournament at home.
"It gets us another game," Boresi said. "Sometimes that helps your confidence. I've seen it where the other team who was off come out and not be as sharp."