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Daily Journal
     February 26, 2020      #75-57 KDJ

BOYS BASKETBALL: Third quarter surge sends Coal

By Mason Schweizer

COAL CITY — Coal City is known primarily as a wrestling powerhouse during the winter season. So, when Coalers boys basketball coach Glen Pacek took over before the start of the season, one of his primary objectives was to give the Coalers another winter sports program for other teams to fear.

Less than a week removed from sharing the Illinois Central Eight Conference title, the Coalers used a deadly 12-0 run in the third quarter of Tuesday’s IHSA Class 2A Coal City Regional matchup with Wilmington to run away from the Wildcats and into Friday’s championship game with a 69-55 win.

“It feels great for the school and for the community,” Pacek said of the Coalers’ 19-wins-and-counting season. “We want to put Coaler basketball on the map, and [winning a regional] would go a long way towards doing that.”

Just a day removed from an overtime victory against Reed-Custer, the Wildcats stumbled out of the gate, falling in an early double-digit hole, thanks to Coal City scoring eight points off of four turnovers and an additional five points off of offensive rebounds.

Coalers big man Jarod Garrelts led the first-half charge, scoring 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first two quarters, with six of those coming on putbacks and another bucket off of a steal.

Garrelts said those hustle stats he and his team showed, especially points off of turnovers, were a big boost.

“It makes it a lot easier,” Garrelts said. “When you’re getting fast breaks and there’s no defense, you really can’t mess that up.”

The Wildcats found enough juice in the second quarter to trade punches and leads with the Coalers, as the teams exchanged three ties and seven lead changes in the second frame before Jack Bunton and Austin Pullara recorded back-to-back steals for easy layups to give the Coalers a 36-32 halftime lead.

But the Wildcats eventually ran out of gas down the stretch, allowing a 12-0 Coalers run in the third quarter that ultimately dug them too deep of a second-half hole to climb out of. They never got to within less than nine points after the surge put them behind 50-34.

“It’s just the swing of a game, a turnover here or there,” Wildcats coach Bill Karavites said. “They’ve just got so many weapons; they’ve got a lot in their arsenal, and it shows.”

Garrelts exploded in the first half for the Coalers, but it was fellow big man Kyle Burch who came off the bench and exploded in the second half, where he scored 13 of his 15 points on the night.

Primarily, the Coalers have rolled out Garrelts and Brady Crawford as starting post players with Burch coming off the bench, almost always giving the Coalers a pair of serviceable big men in the game. Pacek said with the combination of size and athleticism his bigs offer, the opportunity to employ that scheme often gives the Coalers mismatches that lean in their favor.

“I love playing a two-post offense. It’s rare, and the reason I like it is because more and more teams are going with four guards and one big,” Pacek said. “Our kids are athletic enough to guard the perimeter, but yet we’ve got two post options, which can be a mismatch for some teams.”

The Wildcats saw their season end with a 14-18 record in Karavites’ first season, one more win than the program had the past three years combined, a feat more impressive considering the team had just one senior, Kyle Humphries.

Humphries shined in his final game, tying junior big man Ben Kreitz with a team-high 17 points. With starters Kreitz, Trey Shaw (13 points), Tysen Meents and Danny Sanders back next year, Karavites knows the progress is just starting to be seen in Wilmington.

“When I took this job, a lot of people said, ‘You’re probably going to win three or four games this year,’ and these kids just fought their hearts out,” Karavites said. “My three assistants, Drew Tyler, Thad Kreitz and Kyle Meents, they were fantastic to me.

“I’m very excited [for next year], and I just pray to God nobody transfers or gets injured.”

Stat Book

Garrelts added six rebounds, three steals and three blocks to his 17 points, and Burch added three rebounds and two assists to his 15. Bunton had 13 points, two rebounds, five assists and a steal. Pullara had 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and six steals.

Kreitz’s 17 points were complimented by 10 rebounds and a block. Humphries added five boards, two assists and two steals to his 17.

Up Next

The Coalers will take on the winner of tonight’s semifinal between Pontiac and Bishop McNamara for Friday’s regional championship at 7 p.m.

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Mason Schweizer
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