SENECA — It was rivalry night in the Interstate Eight Conference on Friday night. It was also Coaches vs. Cancer Night around the league, but likely no better basketball game was found anywhere than the one played in Seneca.
Hosting Coal City and trying to maintain its undefeated conference record, the Fighting Irish got all they could handle from the Coalers before turning back their guests by a 56-50 decision in overtime.
A big third quarter helped get Seneca a 13-point lead, but up until then the Irish trailed most of the way. In fact, the Irish went the first 5:10 of the game without scoring and then began the second quarter scoreless for 3:47.
"We had some good looks there too where we didn't convert ... the lead could have been more," Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. "I told the guys that they must not have enjoyed that lead very much because they didn't hang onto it too long."
Coal City led 19-18 at halftime, thanks in large part to Nick Peters. He ended with a game high 24 points in the contest.
"I thought we played well but we didn't have much energy at the start of the game," Seneca coach Russell Witte said. "We're at that point where we are hitting the grind. When you add in that we're 20-3 and you know everyone is going to give you their best shot. We looked 18 steps slow in the first half."
Seneca senior Brian Bergeson said he thinks a lot of that is mental.
"It seems like we've been that way for a couple of days now. I think it's mental more than anything," he said. "Hopefully we can regroup this weekend and come back and play like we did in the third quarter."
Seneca scored the first 10 points of the third quarter then added six more points in a row after a Peters basket to make it 34-21 at about the 3:30 mark. However, that's when things flipped again and Coal City managed a valiant comeback that ended with the game going to overtime.
"I can't say enough about my guys," Boresi said. "They really fought back and tied the game. The team showed a great effort."
Bergeson agreed that Coal City played a good game.
"They are much better than they were last year. They've really picked it up," he said. "Peters was outstanding tonight."
Bergeson had 13 points on the night for Seneca while Conlan Callahan added 14. Both Brennan Shetina and Jon West had eight points apiece behind Peters.
"It's a win and I'm very happy. The guys persevered," Witte said. "It was a tough night. Coal City played their hearts out."