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Coal City wins Lisle Cage Classic, is perfect entering 2014

LISLE – After starting the season 11-0, the Coal City girls basketball team reeled off four straight victories at the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic, winning the tournament for the first time in school history and improving their record to 15-0.

“We have a senior group that knows how to lead and knows how to keep everyone focused,” head coach Brad Schmitt said following the Lady Coalers' 52-44 victory over St. Edward Monday to win the tournament. “The old cliché gets thrown around that ‘you go out and play each game as it is and give it your best,’ and right now these kids are pretty confident in what they’re doing.”

Part of the senior group that Schmitt eluded to is guard Emily Halliday, who has stepped up as the leader of the Lady Coalers this season. Her performance in the Holiday Classic led her to becoming tournament MVP. She averaged 17  points for Coal City in the tournament, including 27-point performance in a second round victory over St. Francis. A varsity veteran now, she knows what it takes to get the job done.

“It’s my last year, and I have to do all that I can to contribute to this team,” Halliday said.

“She’s one of the best players I’ve had the chance to coach,” Schmitt added about Halliday. “She’s gritty and does everything that is asked of her. She’s just a special player and means a lot to me and this

Another senior stepping up is Britta Spelde, who has contributed on both offense and defense. In the game Monday, Halliday went out in the third quarter with four fouls. With Halliday on the bench, it was
Spelde who stepped up for the Coalers, scoring six of her 12 points in the frame. Her rebounding was key as well, as she grabbed some big boards down the stretch of the game.

With this being her final season as well, Spelde has been enjoying the opportunity to be one of the leaders of this Coal City squad.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Spelde said after the tournament victory. “I love all my teammates as friends, so it’s awesome to win games and tournaments like this one.”

Not only have the seniors stepped up for the Lady Coalers, but the team as a whole has been contributing, as well. Coal City’s depth has been a big factor in its undefeated start.

“Usually everyone focuses on one or two players, and I think that’s haunted us in the past,” Schmitt said. “I think we go a lot deeper then people give us credit for. We know that, and we practice like that.”

“This year, all seven of our girls in our rotation can score, including the two off our bench,” Halliday added. “We can all score and we all can play defense. We just don’t have shooters. We’re an all-around team.”

As the Lady Coalers head back into Interstate Eight Conference play, there’s no telling how long this team can remain undefeated. One thing is for sure: the Coalers know the target is on their back from here on out.

“I have no idea how long this will go. Hopefully it lasts as far we make it go,” Spelde said.
“It’s going to be tough, but we have a chance to keep it going for a long time,” Halliday added.

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