JOLIET — After a tough 10-point loss Monday against Providence in pool play at the WJOL tournament at St. Francis University, the Minooka boys basketball team was able to bounce back, defeating Romeoville 52-36 to even their record at 1-1.
There was sloppy play from both teams early, as both Minooka and Romeoville ran into foul trouble in the first quarter. The Spartans went up 3-2 early on in the quarter before the Indians came back, led by senior Jake Hogen. Minooka went on a 9-4 run to close out the frame to take an 11-7 advantage. Hogen had nine of his game high 18 points for the Indians in the quarter.
"We really wanted to start out well, especially after losing Monday," Hogen said. "We played a really good team (in Providence) on Monday and we felt we needed to come out and dominate."
One way the Indians dominated was by their defensive play. Minooka used a press defense on Romeoville, causing a lot of distress on the Spartans. This forced many timeouts from Romeoville coach Jeff Bambule and a couple of turnovers.
"We played great defensively today," head coach Scott Tanaka said. "We use our press to slow teams down, then when we go into our defensive sets we try to pack it in on them and make teams score from the outside."
The second quarter was similar to the first, as Minooka again outscored Romeoville 11-7 in the frame to take an eight point (22-14) advantage into the locker room.
Out of the break, the Indians were able to grow their lead off of their smothering defense. Romeoville ran into back-to-back half court violations in the quarter, leading to Minooka baskets on the other end. By the end of the quarter, the Indians have built a 13 point lead.
In the fourth, Romeoville started to press their own, and eventually cut the Minooka lead to single digits. The 13 point lead, however, was too much to overcome, as the Indians iced the game with free throws down the stretch to come away with the win.
Three of the big seniors, Hogen, Darrin Myers, and Adam Holstine, all stepped up for Minooka, combining for 35 of the teams 56 points. Holstine's last three were the most crucial, as he stole a pass, went down the court, laid it in and drew the foul, then knocking down the free throw to seal the game off for the Indians.
"Those three guys come in and work hard for us every day, and it showed out there on the court today," Tanaka said.
Although it is a nice win against an SPC foe for the Indians, Minooka looks forward to playing a big non-conference team on Friday in Lockport.
"We haven't had to play conference teams in tournaments in years past, so it was a little bit different for us today," Hogen said. "It's good to get a feel a little bit for our conference, but we want to be able to play some other teams usually in tournaments."
"It's never fun playing conference teams in tournaments because you play tournaments so you can see other teams you don't get a chance to see," Tanaka added. "We play a good Lockport team, and that's why we joined this tournament. To play good non-conference teams like Lockport."