Coal City holds off Boilers’ late charge
COAL CITY — The biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s game? Never take your foot off the gas.
Bradley-Bourbonnais made a fourth-quarter push to put the pressure on Coal City, but too many missed shots at the bucket killed the Boilers’ chances, and the Coalers defended their home court with a 60-55 victory Tuesday night.
“We had some good spurts where we beat them off the dribble,” Coal City coach Keith Kiper said. “Defensively, we got some good stops and came up with steals. But we also had a lot of bad possessions where we’d get a steal and then turn the ball right back over. Full of ups and downs, but in the end, it’s nice to get a win of a quality program like Bradley-Bourbonnais.”
It looked as if a blowout was in the making early on as Coal City started out red hot from the floor and opened up a 15-2 lead after back-to-back triples from Payton Hutchings.
But the Boilers countered back with two inside buckets from Donnell Anderson to end the quarter on a 6-0 run to trim the lead to 15-8.
“We shot lights out from the opening tip to the end of the quarter,” Kiper said. “I think this was the first time this season where we’ve shot the ball as well as we did. When you see shots are falling, it sparks you and generates momentum.”
Both teams faced their own problems in the turnover department. Although the trend continued in the second, BBCHS began converting on the other end.
Traling 24-14 after a 3-pointer from Pullara, the Boilers pieced together an 8-0 run after Christian Straw drilled two shots from downtown and Anderson converted underneath to bring the game to 24-22.
But Pullara hit two shots to close out the half with the Coalers ahead 28-22.
“We talked about not letting off at halftime,” Kiper said. “When you have a team down, you put your foot on their throats and finish them off. Don’t give them any room to breathe. We kind of took it easy on them and let them right back in the game.”
The Coalers got back to the mentality they opened with and began to dominate again. Leading 28-24, they burst out on a 9-0 run, capped by an inside bucket from Zack Sandeno for a 37-24 advantage. Blake Harseim closed out the third with a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 44-32 Coalers lead.
But the Boilers began to make their rally and put the heat on. Gabe Renchen swished a shot from deep followed by a steal and lay-in from Anderson brought the game down to 52-47 with 3:16 left.
Straw connected on a floater followed by another quick steal and lay-in, this time from Jason Hartsfield for a 54-53 score.
Just when the Boilers had the chance to take the lead, their shot at the rim lipped in and out into the arms of Sean Micetech, who sank a pair of free throws to help put the game on ice.
“We forced the ball in bad situations and tried dribbling between two guys, and it didn’t work,” Kiper said. “We needed this one and hopefully this win gets us back on track. It was nice to see us hold onto a fourth quarter lead after the troubles we’ve had recently.”
Pullara led the Coalers with 14 points and six rebounds. Hutchings and Micetich finished with 13 points each, Micetich also had six rebounds and four assists. Sandeno had six points and six rebounds.
Straw finished with a game-high 19 points and four rebounds. Anderson tallied 12 points and nine rebounds, and Gabe Renchen had 10 points.
Coal City travels to face rival Reed-Custer on Friday.
Bradley-Bourbonnais returns to action Dec. 27 in the Kankakee Holiday Tournament against Peoria Central.