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Coalers make hay at free throw line to silence Reapers

By Bob Reynolds

PLANO Coal City forward Kenny Shetina must have taken a good deal of ribbing from his teammates in the Coalers' victorious locker room.

After all, Shetina was the unlucky guy who missed his team's only free throw of the night. The Coalers' uncanny marksmanship from the charity stripe boosted them to a 75-63 victory over Plano in Interstate Eight Conference action.

In notching its third straight win, Coal City won the rubber match between the two teams and improved to 9-11 overall and 6-5 in the IEC. Plano won at its Christmas Classic, while the Coalers defended their home court.

Shetina missed his free throw late in the third quarter. Other than that, Coal City was perfect from the line, canning 28 of 29 foul shots, including all 12 in the fourth quarter to slam the door on a late Reaper comeback.

"We talked before the game that we have to make our free throws, especially on the road," said Coaler coach Chris Spencer.

The Coalers won every quarter by three points. But, after gradually widening the lead to 50-41 after three periods, they applied what appeared to be a knockout punch to Plano, an 11-0 run which established a 61-43 cushion with six minutes left.

After a time out, the Reapers went to a full-court press and began trapping in the half court. Obina Agomo (19 points) converted a three-point play and sank a 6-footer. Then Matt Priesman drained a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 61-51. Several possessions later, Agono scored on a fast break after a Coaler turnover to bring Plano within 65-58.

But the Reapers, who only placed five players in the scoring column, ran out of gas from the extra energy expended and succumbed to Coal City's foul shooting mastery.

"Coal City played really hard, and when you shoot that well from the line, you're going to win a lot of ball games," said Plano coach Nate Spriggs. "We had to start taking chances when we got so far behind, but it was just too late." In addition to the near-perfect foul shooting, the Coalers also dominated the boards, outrebounding Plano 32-21. On one possession in the third quarter, they pulled down six straight offensive rebounds.

"I sat down halfway through that (sequence), I couldn't watch it any more," said Spriggs.

Agomo and Will Brown kept the Reapers (8-16 overall, 4-6 conference) in the game in the second half. Agomo scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, while Brown tallied all of his 13 points after the intermission. Agomo had five rebounds, and Brown had five assists.

"Agomo played a heck of a game," said Spriggs. "He posted up on the offensive end and ran the point on our press."

But the Reapers had to contend with Coal City's Brett Smith. The junior guard had a career-high 26 points and drained all 11 of his free throws.

"Brett did a great job," said Spencer. "He played a lot as a sophomore and got quite a bit of experience. He hit some big threes when we needed them."

Smith knocked down a 3-pointer in the early fourth-quarter burst, then sank six free throws in the final two minutes to help seal the victory.

The Reapers' leading scorer Alex Jensen had 18 points, but shot an uncharacteristic 1-of-8 from 3-point land.

Jon Watters supported Smith with 17 points and eight rebounds for the Coalers.

Boys Basketball: Coal City 75, Plano 63