BRAIDWOOD — After ripping off five straight victories following a 12th-place finish at the Plano Christmas Classic, the Coal City Coalers winning streak came to an end Saturday night in Reed-Custer against the Lisle Lions with a 58-34 loss.
The game got off to a great start for the second-seeded Lions as they jumped out to an early 6-2 lead over Coal City. The seventh-seeded Coalers responded when senior guard Joe Micetich nailed a three, but Coal City would go to the first break trailing by a score of 10-7.
However, that small deficit could have easily been a lead had the Coalers been able to take advantage of several deep touches in the post.
“Our big guys just didn’t make strong post moves,” Coal City head coach Brad Boresi said. “We got the ball inside and we were able to get them in foul trouble, but even though we were getting fouled, we have to be strong enough down there to finish those plays.”
In the second quarter, Coal City made a living at the free throw line and was able to erase the deficit and take a lead on a three-point play by junior center Nick Peters. Peters would finish the game with nine points while going 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
That was enough for Peters to lead the Coalers in scoring on the night, and he did so while playing more of a distributor’s role from the high-post in Coal City’s offense.
“I like to be out there dishing the ball off, but I really need to make sure that I’m out there working on all aspects of the game and not just passing,” Peters said. “I have to get back to attacking the rim and scoring as well as passing.”
With Coal City’s other primary scoring option, senior post Jon West, in foul trouble, Lisle was able to close the half on a small run, and would carry a 23-19 lead into the half. Senior swingman Lamont Harris was the catalyst for Lisle’s offense, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the first half.
In the second half, Coal City and Lisle traded baskets early before Lisle began applying the pressure in their half-court defense. The Lions sank into a zone and turned Coal City over seven times in the third quarter while outscoring the Coalers 17-6 on the period.
“We, unfortunately, have a tendency to get careless with the basketball,” Boresi said. “That second half was a prime example. We know what our zone offense principles are, and careless weak passes aren’t going to get it done.”
In the fourth quarter, West fouled with 7:50 remaining and Lisle was able capitalize and extend the lead by continuing its torrid second-half shooting (63 percent for the half). Conversely, the Coalers went cold from the free-throw line, missing six straight attempts at one point and finishing 12-for-21 on the night after hitting nine of their first 11 attempts.
“It’s all about being able to step up in the game and make those (free throw) shots,” Boresi said. “We spend plenty of time shooting them in practice, it’s just a matter of them getting the job done.”
Lisle will advance to play third-seeded Westmont in a semifinal matchup on Tuesday night, while Coal City will move on to play Wilmington in the fifth-place bracket. With two more games guaranteed in the conference tournament and regional play upcoming, the Coalers hope Saturday’s blowout loss doesn’t kill the momentum they’ve built post-holidays.
“Our coaches are good at getting us focused on our team goals in practice, and I know when we come in Monday they’re gonna get us ready to take that next step,” Peters said.