COAL CITY – The Coal City and Seneca girls basketball teams picked up right where they left off Jan. 23 when the two met in the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament – playing tightly contested basketball.
However, it was in opposite fashion of the first game. This time around, Seneca stayed close throughout the game, only to have the Coalers pull away late in a 47-38 victory Thursday in Coal City.
“We knew they were going to come out exactly like they came out. They tried to be more physical, and they were,” Coal City coach Brad Schmitt said. “We didn’t match their intensity and physicalness right off the bat.”
Coal City remains undefeated on the season.
In the first quarter Coal City got a couple of quick 3-pointers from Nicole Borgetti and one more later in the quarter. The only other Coaler offense in the quarter was a basket by Britta Spelde at the buzzer. Seneca countered with a Jacey Lamboley 3-pointer, a basket each by Mallory Misener and Danielle Hauch to go with a free throw by Lamboley and two from Anna Baker, but the Coalers led 11-10 after the first.
The second quarter was just as close, with Coal City getting a little more balance in the scoring department. The Coal City lead got to 19-11 after a steal by Brittany Jezik, a pass to Spelde and an assist to Emily Halliday. Yet, Seneca hung around and got the score to 23-21 by halftime, when Baker finished the scoring before intermission with a conventional three-point play.
It was a 31-30 Coal City lead after three quarters, but then the Coalers pulled away with about two minutes to go with the score at 39-36.
“You just can’t give up the penetration and the fouls. I mean we gave up six points in two plays with about a minute and a half left,” Seneca coach Barb Beck said. “We have to recover. We can’t get beat off the dribble like that.”
Schmitt said his team simply willed a way to win.
“I thought we found a way to win. I thought the seniors stepped up and played like seniors in that fourth quarter,” he said. “Gave us good leadership. They played well as a team for about the last six minutes of the fourth quarter and that paid off for us.”
Misener led all scorers with 19 points while Halliday added 16 for the Coalers. Borgetti added 14 points and Spelde 13.
“I can’t fault the kids, they played their butts off,” Beck said. “We just missed a lot of good looks in the third quarter that we needed to hit. You can’t do that against a team of their caliber.”