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Local

Improvement throughout the key for Coal City at Morris Ladies Shootout

MORRIS – For a lot of high school basketball teams, the summer season is about more than just wins and losses.

Case in point, the Coal City girls basketball team.

While the Lady Coalers went 0-3 during the first day of competition at the 21st Annual Morris Ladies Shootout on Tuesday, coach Brad Schmitt was not about to label the day a failure by any means.

"We did a lot of good things," Schmitt said after a loss to Sycamore in his team's third game of the day. "We played hard all day, which was nice to see. We do have to work on some decision making and shot selection, but that's what the summer is for."

Schmitt employed a strategy all day of rotating in five players at a time rather than the one or two-person substitutions he may use during the regular season. He said it was by design, since he wanted to see as many girls on the court getting as much playing time as possible. One unit would play about seven minutes of the 20-minute, running clock half, then the next unit would check in. After seven or so more minutes, the initial unit went back on the court and it continued that way in the second half.

"We like to do that over the summer," Schmitt said. "We change the units up from game to game so we can see who works well with each other, but the way these things are set up, with the running clocks and stuff, it's the easiest way for me to know who's on the floor with who and notice who works well with who."

The Lady Coalers began the day with a loss to Kankakee, then fell to perennial power Lincoln-Way West. Against Sycamore, the Lady Coalers were within 19-17 with 15 minutes remaining, but the Spartans defense took over down the stretch and limited Coal City to just two points the rest of the way in a 36-19 win.

"Even though we took an 'o-fer,' I thought we had a decent day," Schmitt said. "Lincoln-Way West handed it to us pretty good, but they do that to a lot of teams. We were in it for a while against Kankakee and against Sycamore.

"But, that's why we're here. We are improving and I saw improvement from the beginning of today to the end."

The Coalers, who went 12-17 overall last year and 6-5 in Interstate Eight Conference play before losing in the Class 3A regional semifinals, were led offensively against Sycamore by Bridget Kauzlaric, while Olivia Skubic, Hannah Flint, Brooke Chapman and Lindsay Stopka all had key buckets in the early going. Kauzlaric is the team's leading returning scorer at 10 points a game last season, while Makenna Crater scored 3.5 and Chapman and Stopka each had averages of 2.5.

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