Brittany Jezik doesn’t need to score to be a big part of Coal City’s success.
Whatever the team needs, the senior guard is there as was the case Tuesday. Helping Coal City to a 54-40 win over Interstate-8 conference rival Peotone at the Beecher Tournament championship, Jezik finished with nine points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“Don’t make turnovers, make sure our team is flowing and no one’s down,” Jezik said of her mindset. “Lift everyone up and play as a team. Just have fun.”
Jezik and her Coaler teammates were certainly having fun Tuesday courtesy of a dominant fourth quarter performance.
In a tight game in closing seconds of the third, Jezik helped end the quarter with a flourish. Coal City having already killed a minute-plus off the clock, Jezik threw herself into the fray under the basket, scooping up a rebound.
The 5-foot-5 guard kicked the ball out to tournament MVP Britta Spelde (14 points) who drove hard to the basket for the bucket, putting Coal City (5-0) up 41-35 heading to the fourth.
“I know I’m one of the smallest players out there, but if I box out, there’s a chance I can get the rebound,” Jezik said. “I’m not going to be able to put it back up so I kick it out.”
Shaking off her struggles from the semifinals and Tuesday’s first half, Coal City’s Emily Halliday came to life in the second half, scoring 12 of her 14 points.
“It was frustrating because I haven’t been myself (offensively),” Halliday said. “Once I hit one shot, it all started clicking.”
Opening the fourth, Halliday drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key. The three put Coal City up 44-35, sparking the big fourth quarter effort as the Coalers outscored Peotone 13-4.
“It felt like a breath of fresh air,” Halliday said with a smile. “It was back and forth there, but that felt like the dagger.”
Peotone committed six turnovers in the fourth, only managing four attempts from the field. Emily Carstens (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Cora Graffeo (9 points, 9 rebounds) led the Blue Devils (4-2).
“It seemed like we hit a wall,” Peotone coach Steve Strough said. “They pushed through it, and we didn’t. I don’t know if it was experience or fatigue on our end, but we’ve got to find a way to overcome it.”