MINOOKA — If Friday night’s Minooka-Plainfield North boys basketball game is a pre-cursor of what is to come this basketball season, then fasten your seat belts.
In a wild game that saw a combined 41 turnovers, it was the Indians who stood tall, defeating the Tigers 58-57 on a layup from junior Adam Alexander with 10.5 seconds left.
At the outset of the game, Minooka was able to capitalize on early Plainfield mistakes, going up 6-0 on back-to-back three pointers from seniors Darrin Myers and Adam Holstine. After a North timeout, the Tigers bounced back, ultimately cutting it to only a 16-15 lead for the Indians after the first quarter.
“We came out with a lot of fight and fire in us tonight,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “The team we played tonight was a very experience club, and we knew we had to start strong.”
Minooka led 32-31 at halftime. Coming out of the half, Minooka was able to dominate, outscoring Plainfield 20-11 in the frame to take a 10 point lead into the fourth.
“We came out and played the third quarter the way we envision playing all year, and that’s forcing our opponents to take tough shots, and that’s exactly what we did,” Tanaka said.
The Tigers responded, however, at the start of the fourth, as they went in a 10-0 run to tie the game at 52.
With it all knotted up, the intensity level ratcheted up inside Minooka’s South Campus. With both teams in the bonus, free throws would come after every foul. Minooka took the lead on a free throw from junior Neal Tyrell to go up 53-52.
After another foul, Alexander made two free throws from the line, giving the Indians a three-point advantage with two minutes left to go in the ball game.
North responded from those two free throws with a basket from senior Kurt Palandech, making it a one-point game again. After a foul to senior Perry Jones, he was able to knock one down for Minooka, making it a 56-54 game with 1:30 left to go.
“I think we fell under the pressure of the moment early in the fourth, but when our crowd got behind us we started playing better again,” Tanaka said.
Then, with about 30 seconds left to go, Interal stepped up for Plainfield North, burying a three pointer to give the Tigers a one point lead, their first lead of the second half.
“I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t expecting him to take that shot, but he’s a streaky shooter and showed tonight that he can hit that big shot,” DiForti said of Interal.
Not calling a timeout, the Indians came the other way on offense. With about 15 seconds left, Myers called for a pick and roll. Alexander set the screen, and then was left unguarded while both defenders went towards Myers. Seeing this, Myers dumped the ball of to Alexander, who’s layup bounced around the rim and in with 10.5 seconds left, giving Minooka the 58-57 advantage.
“I was surprised I was that open,” Alexander said. “The back side came crashing down on me, but they were a little late. My heart dropped a little bit when the ball was bouncing on the rim, but then it finally went in.”
North had one last chance to score, but failed to convert.
“We had an aggression to come out and get a big win, and that’s what we did,” Alexander said.