Boys basketball: Chesterton’s Cole Teal making the most of his last shot
By LaMond Pope email@example.com or 713-2691 February 26, 2014 8:16PM
Chesterton"s Cole Teal makes a three point basket against Morton in the first quarter of play during their game held at Morton High School in Hammond on Wednesday December 4, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 28, 2014 9:05AM
CHESTERTON — Cole Teal was anxious. He was also excited.
Excited to play in front of the home crowd for the first time since returning from a broken collarbone. And excited to square off against rival Valparaiso.
Teal used that energy to score 20 points last Friday in a 48-30 victory.
“It felt great,” Teal said after practice Tuesday. “You never think of an injury happening, especially in your senior season. Things happen, everything happens for a reason. I kept telling myself that.
“And I kept telling myself that when I come back I’m going to make the most of the opportunity. I’m thankful it wasn’t a season-ending injury and I had the opportunity to come back and play. Not just that game, but the upcoming sectional.”
Teal is averaging close to 12 points for the Trojans (10-9). Chesterton closes out the regular season Friday against Boone Grove and then squares off again against Valparaiso in a sectional contest March 5.
“He can score at the 3-point line. He can drive it in and score. He can pull up and hit a short shot. He rebounds and defends,” Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. “He can do a lot of things and he does them pretty well.”
There was a period of time Teal couldn’t do any of that.
Chesterton picked up a big victory on Dec. 17 against East Chicago. Teal suffered the injury going for a loose ball rebound at practice the next day.
He said he knew something was wrong right away.
“It was really tough,” Teal said of his time away from the court. “These are my best friends. We’ve been playing together since the forth grade. It was really tough to watch, but I just did my best to support the guys. They backed me up.”
Teal has appeared in four games since returning from the injury.
“The team was so supportive,” he said. “They took me right back and coach took me right back.”
Chesterton got back a player who has made steady improvements throughout his time in the program.
“He has become more solid. He doesn’t turn the ball over as much. His shooting percentage has gone up,” Peller said. “He’s become more consistent with his play. It’s not up and down, it’s more steady. Just being more consistent.
“He’s always been able to do those things. He’s just gotten better at all of them.”
That was on display against Valparaiso. And the Trojans needed even more once teammate Chris Palombizio suffered an injury in the contest. The victory snapped the Trojans’ six-game losing streak.
“Cole sees that ‘I need to do a little bit more.’ And he’s used to that,” Peller said. “He was the quarterback on the football team, he’s always been a leader. The guys look up to him. Now that he has to be kind of the main guy, I think he likes that role, he feels comfortable with that role. He’s going to have to do that now.”
Teal will be playing basketball next year at Williams College in Massachusetts. But first, he’s grateful for the chance to help the Trojans any way he can.
“Two weeks ago, we realized that this is going to be our last time playing together,” Teal said. “So let’s play for each other and let’s do this.”