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Lady Coalers use smothering defense to shoot down Comets

BRAIDWOOD – Coal City’s defense was at it again.

Limiting hosting Reed-Custer to 14 points through the first three quarters while creating 21 turnovers in the first 24 minutes of play, the Coalers girls basketball team knocked off the Comets, 46-23, in Interstate Eight Conference action Monday night.

“They have great ball pressure. They really disrupt your point guard and the timing of everything you want to do,” Reed-Custer coach Nick Klein said. “They also do a really good job on the back side with help defense. They are real athletic and they get out and defend you. They really force you to have to beat them off the dribble and if you don’t have girls who are going to do that, it’s going to be a long night. That’s kind of where we were at tonight.”

Only once in the first three quarters did the Comets even score consecutive baskets – that when Caitlyn Welch (13 points) and Kenna Wilkey did it with a little over a minute to go in the opening stanza.

Coal City coach Brad Schmitt said solid defense has been the signature of his team all season.

“It’s something we try to rely on. We try to make that our staple,” he said. “We believe that it keeps us in most games and that it’s going to give us a chance in most games.

“Tonight I thought we struggled a little bit at times, but ultimately, holding this team down to 23 points was enough for us to win.”

Emily Halliday led Coal City on offense with 14 points and Nicole Borgetti added 11, but the Coalers seemed out of sync on offense.

“It’s something we focus on because we know if the offense isn’t there that night that we can always depend on our defense,” Borgetti said. “We rely on that – having a good night defensively. That’s what happened tonight because, really, we didn’t have that strong of a game on offense.”

Coal City led 15-6 at the end of the first quarter, 26-10 at halftime and 37-14 after three.

The Coalers now have their sights set on the I-8 Tournament that is right around the corner, though they still have time to prepare.

“We had a number of shots that didn’t go and we forced some things early,” Schmitt said. “But we just missed some open shots and you are going to have that every now and then. But I think we’ll clean that up and hopefully be ready for the conference tournament.”

Borgetti is confident the team will have a more rounded effort when the league tournament tips.

“I think over the next four days of practice we’ll definitely get to work,” Borgetti said. “It wasn’t our strongest game out there tonight, but I think if we practice hard over the next four days we’ll be ready.”

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