COAL CITY — A person could watch a lot of basketball this season, and they will have a hard time seeing a better first quarter than Coal City played Tuesday night in a 65-60 non-conference win over Bradley-Bourbonnais.
The Coalers (7-8), who will play in Class 2A in the postseason, played error-free basketball in the first eight minutes, not committing a foul or a turnover against the Class 4A Boilermakers. They also shot 8 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 4 from three-point range.
"We executed well and we shot the ball well in the first quarter," Coal City coach Glenn Pacek said. "Defensively, we took their two best shooters out of their offense, too."
Coal City raced to an 11-0 lead early as Payton Hutchings opened the scoring with a basket underneath, then he assisted on a bucket by Jack Bunton, who was fouled and made the free throw for a three-point play. Austin Pullara and Hutchings then each scored off of a drive before Pullara scored on a fast break with the assist coming from Jason Garrelts, who stole the ball to start the break.
After a Bradley-Bourbonnais timeout, the Boilermakers got on the board with a basket by Gabe Renchen, but Bunton answered with a three-pointer. It was one of two three-pointers on the night by Bunton on his way to a game-high 21 points.
Coal City ended the first quarter with a 20-7 lead after Hutchings hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Coalers pushed the lead to 31-16 midway through the second quarter, but back-to-back three-pointers by Bradley's Kendall Lake and Renchen made it 31-22. The two teams traded baskets twice the rest of of the way and Coal City took a 35-26 lead into halftime.
"It's nice to start off with an 11-0 run, but it's hard to sustain that level of intensity and consistency for a whole game," Pacek said. "During timeouts, we stressed that we had to keep that consistency, and, for the most part, we did that and continued to get good shots.
"We took it as a challenge to play a bigger school like Bradley-Bourbonnais. We thought we could come in and play with them. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for us."
The Boilermakers did not go down without a fight, however. They outscored Coal City 17-9 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 46-43 entering the fourth. The Coaler lead was 50-48 in the fourth when Bunton scored on a basket underneath, then followed with a three-pointer to push the lead to 55-48. Another spurt by Bradley-Bourbonnais made it 58-57 following a Lake three-pointer with 1:22 remaining. Coal City's Kyle Burch, who started the game on the bench, made 4 of 4 free throws in the final 36.6 seconds to keep Bradley-Bourbonnais at bay.
The Coalers had a balanced scoring attack, placing five players in double figures. After Bunton's 21, Pullara scored 12, while Hutchings, Garrelts and Burch all scored 10. Garrelts had a team-high nine rebounds, while Hutchings had six assists.
"I think of a Ronald Reagan quote," Pacek said. "It's amazing what you can get done when no one cares who gets the credit. Our guys are like that. They aren't selfish at all. That's just their nature. They have been playing together for a long time.
"They know who has the hot hand and they get him the ball. And, they make an extra pass to get the ball to someone who has a better shot. we have very strong guards, and we try to take advantage of that. We can create mismatches with them."