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COAL CITY — First half foul trouble for the St. Bede boys basketball kept Coal City close Friday, but the Bruins changed up defenses and blasted the Coalers in the second half for a 65-45 victory to improve to 2-0 in the Coaler Turkey Tournament.
“We were pretty much forced to switch from man-to-man defense to zone,” Bruin head coach Mike Kilmartin said. “We had so much foul trouble that we had to switch, but it worked out because we really caused a lot of turnovers as a team that led to some easy baskets. The nice thing is it was everyone not just one or two guys.”
Right off the bat in the third quarter, Grant Bosnich and Brad Groleau used sharp passes into the post where the 6-foot-7 Joe Pyszka stood for three quick layups followed by a Groleau 3-pointer for a 40-29 lead.
Another forced turnover by the Bruins led to Damon Smith converting a fast break layup, and then two more dishes from Bosnich to Pyszka pushed the St. Bede lead to 46-32.
Groleau continued his stellar play at both ends, which led to 4-of-5 shooting from the field in the third quarter as the Coalers struggled to even get shots off, giving the Bruins a 55-34 lead heading into the final eight minutes. St. Bede shot 12-of-14 in the third period.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we had so many guys step up like we did,” Kilmartin said. “Six of our top eight guys are seniors and have played a lot of basketball together the past four years, so I think the leadership is obviously there.”
The Bruin defense continued to shine and Pyszka dominated the boards, which kept the Coalers from having any attempt at a comeback.
“We talked everything over at halftime,” said Pyszka, who had game highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds. “We really came into the second half with a purpose. The guys really did a nice job of finding me in the paint and the guys on the outside as well.”
Sam Lucas had a solid performance for the Bruins, hitting 4-of-6 shots for 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. Groleau picked up all 17 of his points in the middle two quarters to go along with six rebounds.
The Bruins started off the game with Pyszka picking up seven of the Bruins’ first 10 points, but five turnovers kept the Coalers close trailing 10-8.
Despite being in heavy foul trouble, the Bruins maintained their lead at 29-25 at halftime before the big second half run led to a 65-45 lead.
St. Bede faces Gardner-South Wilmington at 5:30 tonight with a win giving the Bruins the tournament title for the third consecutive season.