COAL CITY – When a basketball team has a threat under the basket and a threat in the backcourt, it can be tough to beat. The Morris boys basketball team found that out Saturday night in a 67-59 loss to Coal City in the Coal City Turkey Tournament.
Coal City finished as tournament champs with a 3-0 record.
Coalers 6-foot-8 post player Nick Peters made life difficult for the Redskins (2-1) in the first half, scoring 13 of his 16 points. In the second half, point guard Brennen Shetina, a four-year starter, put the Coalers on his back and scored 14 of his 20 points. Both made the All-Tournament team, along with Evan Bjelland and Austin Patterson of Morris and Trevor Wehner of Serena.
The teams played to a 15-15 tie to end the first quarter, but Coal City’s defense took over in the second quarter, sparking the Coalers to a 34-20 halftime lead. Coal City forced 12 Morris turnovers in the first half, and Peters went 6 for 11 from the field.
“We knew we had to crank up the defense,” Shetina said. “We were late on our rotations a lot [Friday] night [against Gardner-South Wilmington], and we knew that Morris’ shooters could get hot and go on a run at any time. We had to get to our spots, which we were able to do tonight.”
When the Coalers weren’t busy causing turnovers, they occupied themselves with making shots, a feat they accomplished with stunning regularity, going 14 for 29 from the field and 6 for 8 from the free-throw line in the first half.
“That second quarter was the best quarter we have played in the young season,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “We had an excellent tournament. We were trying to find some guys to fill some roles and we got some questions answered this weekend.”
Morris fought back in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 40-35 with less than a minute and a half to play in the quarter. Shetina then converted a three-point play and Lane Cowherd (15 points) hit a put-back basket at the buzzer to give Coal City a 45-35 lead entering the fourth.
Five straight points by Shetina and a free throw by Peters gave the Coalers a 51-35 lead and they kept the lead in double digits until Bjelland (23 points) hit a 3-pointer to pull Morris to within nine. Cowherd then ran off two straight hoops and Shetina hit a pair of free throws to move Coal City’s lead back to 15. A putback by Segal Arias (10 points) made the score 67-50 before Morris scored the game’s final nine points.
“Brennen took over in the second half,” Boresi said. “He made some huge baskets when we needed them, and so did Lane Cowherd.”
Besides Bjelland’s 23 points, Morris got 12 points from Patterson and nine from Jake Walker.
“We didn’t take care of the ball well,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “With Shetina on the perimeter and Peters inside, they are a tough team. And they made their free throws down the stretch. We just didn’t play very well.”