Judging by the end of the first quarter, the Interstate Eight tournament championship game Friday night at Coal City wouldn’t lack intensity.
Coal City’s Brennen Shetina and Reed-Custer’s Tyler Allen battled on the floor for a loose ball and both players wound up with technical fouls.
Both teams maintained the up-tempo pace from start to finish. Coal City turned a 49-all tie after three quarters into a 75-66 victory that won the title and avenged a Jan. 17 loss to Reed-Custer.
“I’ve been on varsity four years,’’ Shetina said. “My freshman year we got last. Sophomore year we got eighth or ninth. Last year I think we got fifth.
“To top it off with a championship, improve every year, it doesn’t get much better than that. It just shows all the hard work does end up paying off.’’
Shetina and Segal Arias led Coal City in the fourth quarter with 10 points apiece.
Shetina maneuvered for a layup to give the Coalers a 59-54 lead and stole the ball on the next possession, which led to a Nick Peters basket and a 61-54 advantage with 3:46 to play that Reed-Custer couldn’t overcome.
“I think they executed better than us down the stretch in the fourth quarter,’’ Reed-Custer coach Mark Porter said.
Reed-Custer closed the gap to 65-62 with two minutes left on a three-pointer by Travis Schoonover, but baskets by Shetina and Arias gave Coal City a 69-63 lead.
Shetina put the game out of reach with two free throws for a 71-63 cushion with 1:11 left.
“We bent but we didn’t break,’’ Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “We responded. I thought Brennen Shetina stepped up huge for us late.’’
Arias led Coal City (13-5) with 22 points and Shetina had 20. Peters, Coal City’s 6-foot-8 center, was a big factor with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Lane Cowherd had 10 points.
“I have to give it to my teammates, Brennen and all of them gave me good looks, breaking the press,’’ said Arias, who had eight layups.
Reed-Custer fell behind 22-6 after one quarter, but eventually went ahead 37-35 early in the third quarter, including a 7-0 run to start the second half.
“The kids understand we’re not out of games,’’ Porter said. “The way we play, the pace we try and set, the number of threes we shoot. We knew we weren’t out of it.’’
Brent Headrick had 15 points and Schoonover 14 for Reed-Custer (12-9), which was playing in the title game for the first time. Eleven players made the scorebook for the Comets.