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Coal City winter sports having early success

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 10:01 p.m. CDT
(Mark Johnson –
Madyson Bunton drives to the basket for the Coal City girls basketball team during Monday's win over Peotone. The Lady Coalers are off to a 9-0 start.

COAL CITY – The first snow just fell in the area, and already Coal City High School’s winter sports teams have two championships, a bunch of wins and some state rankings.

Both Coal City basketball teams began their seasons with tournament titles. Behind Most Outstanding Player Britta Spelde, the Lady Coalers topped the field at Beecher’s Ladycat Fall Classic. They now are 9-0 on the season, having defeated the same Peotone team they faced for the title at Beecher in their most recent game Monday night.

I got to see some of the best basketball – and some of the worst – that the Lady Coalers have played this season on Monday. They looked like world-beaters early, building a 20-7 lead in the second quarter. Then they allowed Peotone to make up ground in the third quarter and couldn’t buy a basket early in the fourth, although they got to the foul line, and converted there, in the final minutes.

“We stopped hitting some key shots, and they penetrate so well,” Coal City coach Brad Schmitt said Monday. “We got in foul trouble a little bit, and I think we lost our aggressiveness on the defensive end. They capitalized with some tough 3-point plays the hard way. They switched to zone a little bit. It flustered us a little bit for a second, until we realized what was going on. Then we had some people come in, step up and hit some big shots.”

The Coal City boys hoopsters also were undefeated through their first four games. Winning hasn’t always been easy for the Coalers – they needed two overtimes to dispatch of Gardner-South Wilmington 65-63 en route to a championship at their own Turkey Tournament – but they’ve been able to find a way consistently.

Seneca might have an argument, but the early results make Coal City look like the boys team to beat in the area. Not only did the Coalers defeat GSW during the tournament, they defeated Morris in the championship. Morris owns wins over GSW and Minooka.

Currently 5-1, Seneca is the only local team above .500 that the Coalers haven’t beaten, but they’ll get a shot at the Fighting Irish on Feb. 7, if not sooner in tournament play.

The team results haven’t been as impressive for the Coal City wrestling team, but the Coalers continue to boast some elite individual talent. Cody Minnick was ranked No. 1 in Class 1A in the 113-pound class by Illinois Matmen in its Dec. 3 update. The site ranked another Coal City junior, Corey Jurzak, second at 126 pounds and a senior, Casey Brown, fourth at 132.

There are many weeks of snow outside and tournaments inside remaining this winter.

I’m guessing there will be a few more additions to the trophy cases at Coal City before we hit spring.

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