DARIEN — About midway through the first quarter in Thursday's quarterfinal matchup between the Minooka Indians and Stagg Chargers at the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament, the game was tied at four.
By the end of the quarter, Stagg had built up a 22-4 advantage on Minooka courtesy of an 18-0 Chargers run. This proved to be the decisive factor as Stagg held off an Indians run to win 50-44.
The 18-0 run was started with a three-point field goal from Chargers guard Max Strus and ended with a four-point play at the buzzer from sophomore forward Jeff Goral, putting an exclamation point on the huge Stagg run.
"We were kind of hit in the jaw in the first quarter and it questioned us on how tough we need to be," Minooka head coach Scott Tanaka said. "You can't take away a bad first quarter, but as long as you learn from it, you can grow and be better as a team."
"I didn't need to say much because we really never gave up. They were just running their sets well and making baskets," senior guard Darrin Myers added. "Our shots just weren't falling for us."
The big run was combated by poor shooting from the Indians. Minooka only managed to shoot 28 percent from the field Thursday night, one of the lowest percentages the Indians have shot all year.
"You're not going to win any games shooting 28 percent, especially against a good basketball team," Tanaka said.
"Generally we've been shooting well all year, but sometimes you just have those days where nothing falls," senior guard Jake Hogen added. "It's frustrating, but we just have to do a better job of getting to the hoop and our jump shots to fall."
After the first quarter, though, Minooka started to show more life. The Indians came out and outscored Stagg 18-4 in the second frame to cut the deficit to four, 26-22, heading into the break.
"It's very easy when you face a big deficit and your shots don't fall to just quit," Hogen said. "But our guys battled a lot, and I was very pleased with our effort."
The Indians couldn't carry the momentum into the third quarter, however, as Stagg once again built a double-digit lead on Minooka. It was only an eight-point lead for the Chargers going to the fourth quarter, but a quick 6-0 run to start the frame put Stagg up 14.
Minooka made it interesting down the stretch, though. Trailing by 10 with a minute left, both Hogen and junior Neal Tyrell knocked down three-pointers to cut the Charger lead to 48-44. It wasn't enough, as two more free throws from Stagg resulted in the 50-44 decision in favor of the Chargers.
"Christmas tournaments are designed to play good teams, and I feel we got better today," Tanaka said. "We hope that we can continue to grow tomorrow."
The loss knocks the Indians out of the winners' bracket, as they will now move on to play Metea Valley at 3 p.m. Friday back at Hinsdale South. For the Indians, they just hope to finish strong the next two days.
"The way this tournament is set up, the top remaining right teams left are all very good teams," Hogen said. "We look at it as a good opportunity to get back at it and play a very good Metea Valley team and then go home with a 3-1 record out of this tournament."