BOYS BASKETBALL: Boilers overmatch, outwork Coal City
BRADLEY — Tuesday was just the night and shooting performance Bradley-Bourbonnais needed.
In a game which it never trailed, the Boilers focused more on its inside game and ball movement that led them to a 73-49 victory over Coal City in non-conference action.
“It’s all about the process and we made some steps in a positive direction tonight,” Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Alex Renchen said. “We executed really well and I’m pleased with the effort our guys put forth. We did some good things and we’ll learn from the things that weren’t as sharp.”
It’s quite possible that if Coal City’s Austin Pullara hadn’t scored in the first half, the Coalers might still be searching for a bucket.
Not because they were playing bad, their shots simply weren’t falling. No matter how open of a look they had, the ball wasn’t in an agreeing mood in the first 16 minutes.
Pullara paced them with 13 of their 21 first half points despite shooting 2-of-11 from distance.
“Nothing was falling, especially in the first half,” Coal City coach Keith Kiper said. “We had open look after open look and if we make a couple of them, we’re right in the thick of things. We’re not hitting shots right now.”
Inside game too strong
While the Boilers went with a more spread and spaced attack in the first quarter, the inside game of Linell Jefferson took over in the second.
Realizing that Coal City didn’t have many options to handle the size of Jefferson inside the paint, the Boilers fed the big man and he delivered.
“My teammates did a great job of getting me open and looking for me in the post,” Jefferson said. “They get me the ball in areas that I’m comfortable and it makes the game that much easier for me and them.”
Using his big body inside, he led the Boilers with eight points and collected four rebounds alongside six points from Deylon Johnson’s six points that gave the Boilers a 30-21 lead at the half.
Jefferson finished the night with 12 points and seven rebounds.
“This is a game I can really build on moving forward,” Jefferson said. “I really haven’t been playing at a level I believe I can play at and this game just boosted my confidence. It’s only up from here.”
32 minutes of control
Speaking of Johnson, what a night he had. With Gabe Renchen in foul trouble for most of the game, Johnson took over some ball handling duties and showed out.
Already with 10 points at halftime, he was held scoreless in the third but did pass out three of his five assist during the stretch while the Boilers held a 45-35 lead into the final frame.
“The team did a great job of spacing,” Johnson said. “That spacing allowed me to drive to the basket, stop and hit our shooters like Gabe (Renchen) and Jason (Hartsfield). Every one of our guys can score, it came down to getting them easy looks, making the easy pass and finishing the easy play.”
Once it was money time, Johnson began cashing in. Simply just letting the game come to him, he sliced and diced his way to nine fourth-quarter points and a pair of assists.
“Johnson went off and had one heck of a game,” Kiper said. “We couldn’t stop him. He had a lot of good drives and made some good shots.
He finished with a game-highs of 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“I think I did a good job of taking shots that I knew I could make,” Johnson said. “It all worked in my favor. We really needed this win and it’s a huge confidence booster for us.
In addition to Johnson and Jefferson, Mikal Clarke added 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Renchen and Jason Hartsfield each chipped in eight points.
After Pullara for Coal City, Payton Hutchings had eight points and three rebounds.
Both teams are back in action at home on Friday. Coal City hosts Reed-Custer in Interstate Eight action and Bradley-Bourbonnais welcomes Bremen to town.