OSWEGO — After starting the Oswego Holiday Tournament with two tough opponents in Neuqua Valley and Batavia, the Minooka Indians girls basketball team looked to finish 2-2 overall in the tournament as it took on Rosary Saturday. Unfortunately, the Indians let a 10-point third quarter lead slip away as they lost to the Royals 42-39.
Sloppy play was killer all day for Minooka, as it committed 23 turnovers in the contest. Seven of these came in the fourth quarter, where Rosary outscored the Indians 17-8.
"I thought we lost our composure," Minooka coach Ray Liberatore said. "I think in the first half we did good breaking their press. And even though we were still winning there late, we started to lose our confidence."
Rosary took its first lead in the second half at 36-35 with around three minutes to go in the game. The Royals hadn't led since they went up 17-15 in the second quarter.
After they took the lead, the Royals were able to maintain that lead due to great free throw shooting. Rosary made 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
"Free throws have been one of our weaknesses the entire year, and so it was really good to see our girls step up to the line with confidence and a Tully make them," Rosary coach Jessie Wilcox said.
Up until the end, the Indians and Royals had played a tightly contested game. With the game tied at 21 in the third quarter, Minooka went on a 10-0 run to take a 31-21 advantage. Rosary hit two late buckets in the third to make it a six-point lead for the Indians before letting the game slip away in the fourth.
"We had some nice match ups inside that we felt we could take advantage of," Liberatore said. "We came out in the second half and rebounded better as well. They were pretty aggressive, so I thought that we were doing a good job at just limiting them to one shot."
The fourth quarter, though, is when it all unraveled for Minooka, who now drop to 4-9 overall on the season. Rosary's press was able to get to the Lady Indians, leading to easy buckets for the Royals.
"In games in the past, we've looked at the scoreboard, saw that we were down ten, and would have given up," Wilcox said. "The girls stayed in physically and mentally, and didn't give up till the final whistle."
Minooka will play in one more holiday tournament against Edwardsville before returning to conference action in the new year. Although a 1-3 showing at Oswego wasn't what the Indians wanted, they know they can grow from the tournament.
"The biggest thing for us going forward is to be able to handle the ball," Liberatore said. "To generate offensive looks, we have to be able to make simple passes to our girls inside. We just have to cut down on our turnovers, even if we have to shuffle some players around."