PLANO – Coal City’s only lead was the right one Thursday as the Coalers defeated upset-seeking Plano 55-54 at the 51st annual Plano Christmas Classic.
The third-seeded Coalers were down by as many as 12 points early, but a Brennan Shetina free throw with 7.9 seconds to play allowed them to earn a quarterfinal date with Morris on Friday night despite turning the ball over 18 times.
“You know what, it’s kind of ironic. A couple of years ago, we found ways to lose games, and now it seems like we’re finding ways to win games,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “Plano is not a 14 seed. They played a tough Thanksgiving tournament. They’re gonna be a tough school in our [Interstate Eight] conference.”
Though the Coalers tied the game early in the fourth quarter, Plano went back ahead by as many as five points on a Jon Mcdermott putback with 2:14 to play. Following a long Nick Peters basket, Coal City’s Shetina created another Coalers possession with a steal and found teammate Lane Cowherd for a conventional 3-point play in transition.
Plano kept the ball for all but 22 of the 92 remaining seconds on its next possession, but it ended in a turnover. Shetina was then fouled on the other end and missed the front end of a 1-and-1. A Cowherd rebound and another foul gave Shetina another chance at the line, and he made the first.
Plano’s final shot attempt, taken by Malik Willis, was blocked by Peters.
“They came down, and I could hear their coach saying they wanted to attack with the way the fouls were getting called at the end there. ... I just kinda read it pretty well, knew they didn’t have very much time, knew he would probably pull up pretty quick and got the stuff,” Peters said. “It worked out pretty well.”
Peters finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocks to lead all players in all four categories. Cowherd had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Plano, which was ahead 18-8 at the end of the first quarter, was led by Elijah Wallace with 22 points.