Coalers close strong, win first I-8 tourney title
COAL CITY – Coal City started fast, withstood a furious Reed-Custer comeback and closed out strong for a 75-66 win Friday in the Interstate Eight Conference boys basketball tournament championship.
It is the first time Coal City has won the tournament. The Coalers were seeded fourth and defeated both No. 1 Seneca and No. 2 Reed-Custer en route to the title.
With Reed-Custer ahead by a point, a transition basket by Segal Arias at the 6:27 mark of the fourth quarter seemed inauspicious at the time. It gave the Coalers the lead for good and was a sign of things to come.
Coal City scored 18 of its 26 fourth-quarter points on baskets from close range, most of them coming as the Coalers beat the Comet press. After committing 22 turnovers in the first three quarters, Coal City had only five in the fourth.
“They did a great job,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “We gave away some turnovers in the second and third quarters. Fourth quarter, great job. We finished, executed at the end and closed out the championship game.”
Coal City had a 24-6 lead early in the second quarter. During the first, the Coalers were 10 for 14 from the field to Reed-Custer’s 3 for 20. But Reed-Custer finished the first half on a 24-11 run to close the gap to 35-30.
By halftime, the Comets had forced 15 turnovers and taken 14 more shots than the Coalers. They trailed because they were 12 for 40 from the field to Coal City’s 15 for 26.
Segal Arias finished with a career-high 22 points to lead Coal City (13-5). Brennen Shetina had 20 points, six assists and three steals; Nick Peters had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists; and Lane Cowherd had 10 points for the Coalers.
Sixteen points from Travis Schoonover was high for Reed-Custer (11-9).
Coal City (13-5) avenged a 78-68 regular-season loss to Reed-Custer.