BRAIDWOOD — That Coal City made 23 of its 48 shot attempts Tuesday at Reed-Custer and Wilmington was 14-for-52 from the field was no accident to Coalers forward Lane Cowherd.
“I think this was one of our most complete games of the year, offensively and defensively,” Cowherd said.
The Coalers defeated their geographic rivals 62-37 in the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament after racing to a 13-2 lead midway through the first quarter and never looking back.
By the end of the first, the Coalers led 20-6, having gone 9-for-18 from the field and forced the Wildcats to go 3-for-14. Coal City also out-rebounded Wilmington 14-6 in the first eight minutes.
“We knew it would take a good strong effort for us to bounce back (from a 58-34 Saturday loss to Lisle), and we got it,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “Our effort was outstanding. We battled hard for rebounds and contested a lot of shots. I’m proud of how hard we played.”
The Coalers, who lost 54-50 to Wilmington on Dec. 4, allowed two Wilmington players, Nick Anderson and Dan O’Leary, to reach double figures in scoring. The duo was a combined 12-for-38 from the field, however.
“We had a gameplan, and I felt like we executed it defensively,” Cowherd said. “They have two really good scorers, O’Leary and Anderson. We wanted to do everything we could to stop them. We had a hand in their face almost every time they would go to shoot.”
Nick Peters recorded a double-double for the Coalers with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He also added three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. But Peters had help. Cowherd finished with 12 points off the bench. Brennen Shetina scored 11, and Joe Micetich and Jon West added eight each.
“To be honest, I thought we left some points on the court,” Boresi said. “We missed some easy shots and could easily have had six or eight points more than we did. ... Our free-throw shooting hasn’t been great for most of the year, but tonight that was one place we shot pretty well (15-for-22).”
Coal City and Reed-Custer will play for fifth place Thursday at 7 p.m. This time, the Coalers, who edged Reed-Custer 77-73 on Jan. 11, will not be seeking revenge on a local rival, though it almost feels like it to Boresi.
“Unfortunately we play Reed-Custer. ... The reason I say that is the last time we played them was about the most difficult coaching game I can remember,” Boresi said. “They can be very frustrating to play against. We turned the ball over a bunch last time, and while we won, that left the door more open for them than it could have been.
“It’s a chance for a 3-1 tournament, and that would be a really good tournament.”