COAL CITY – For the people of Coal City and Diamond, basketball may not rank particularly high on their list of priorities right now. Especially in the wake of Sunday’s devastating tornado that hit the area hard.
However, as the community rallies together in the aftermath of the twister, the Coal City boys basketball team still is getting ready for the start of its season on Tuesday. In the process, the Coalers are hoping that their annual Thanksgiving Tournament which kicks off that same day will be a sort of salve for their collective wounds.
“Obviously there are more important things going on right now than basketball,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “I know there are a couple of players on the team who lost their houses in the storm. But I think them coming to practice and by playing the game that it will help take their minds off the situation a bit.”
It’s something that Coal City senior center Nick Peters also echoed.
“We have a couple of guys on the team that live in Diamond whose houses were affected and I think it’s good that they have a place to go and take their mind off of it,” he said. “Here for a couple of hours of practice or when the games start. They can focus on the routine of playing basketball instead of thinking about the things that were destroyed.”
Both guys also think that getting the chance to open the season at home in their own holiday tournament will also prove to be a good thing for the community as a whole.
“We have a tournament here with two games a night for three different nights and it couldn’t really have come at a better time. I think it will help people take their minds off things,” Peters said. “Hopefully we can play pretty well and we can be something they rally behind.”
“I think it [the tournament] will give people the chance to come out and support the team and then at the same time, hopefully we can come up with something to show that we are also supporting the community,” Boresi said.
Coal City finished 19-13 overall last year and went 6-5 in the Interstate Eight Conference. The Coalers also won their first-ever Class 3A Regional in the process. With a core of Peters, Brennen Shetina, Lane Cowherd, Nate Chapman, Bailey Depodesta and Jordan Koenig – all seniors – the team is hoping it will be able to get off to a better start than the one it had last season.
“We had a really good season last year at the end, and with the guys we have coming back from last year and the new ones, I think we can make a push from the beginning of the season,” Peters said. “We kind of had a rocky start to the season last year and we’re really looking forward to having a good start coming out.”
Eight juniors join that experienced core in Kurtis Smith, Corey Johnson, Cody Krug, Tyler Brewer, Matt Long, Isaiah Washington, Keegan McKinney and Segal Arias.
“We return three starters [Peters, Shetina, Cowherd] from last year’s regional championship team. However, we have a lot of newcomers with no varsity experience,” Boresi said. “Practice is going to be very competitive as we try to fill the void left by last year’s seniors. Getting off to a strong start will be important for this year’s team.”
Boresi points out that Seneca, Herscher and Plano are three teams from the I-8 that teams will have to look out for this winter. At the same time, he doesn’t want to see his team take anyone lightly this year.
“Our goals the past few seasons have been to improve from the season before,” Boresi said. “The last two years we’ve improved our win total from the previous year, and this is what we are hoping to do again this season.”