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Metea Valley gives Indians first losing streak of season

DARIEN — Poor shooting and turnovers did in the Minooka Indians boys basketball team Friday as it dropped a 64-49 decision to the Metea Valley Mustangs in the consolation bracket of the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament.

Turnovers killed the Indians all night, as they committed 22 of them in the game Friday. They had at least five in every quarter, including a game-high seven in the first quarter.

"Against an athletic team like Metea Valley, if you don't take care of the ball, you're going to have a hard time to score," Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. "The only disappointing thing is that we preach it to our guys about controlling the ball, and sometimes in the game they just have a hard time controlling it."

Despite the sloppy play, Minooka was hanging tough with the Mustangs, as it only trailed 15-12 after one quarter. In the second, though, Metea started going inside with its two big men, seniors Shiv Desai and Hayden Barnard. In the last four minutes of the half alone, Desai contributed nine of his team-high 12 points, really causing problems for Minooka.

"They're 6-10 and 6-8 and very skilled basketball players," Tanaka said of the big men for Metea Valley. "Not only are they skilled, but they're big, which can present some problems."

The Indians were still hanging tough, though, as they clawed back into the game and only trailed 34-28 heading into the locker room.

Just like Thursday against Stagg, though, Minooka came out sluggish in the third quarter, getting outscored 14-6 by the Mustangs in the frame. Five more turnovers hurt the Indians, as Metea built up a 16-point lead before Minooka made it a 48-34 game going to the fourth quarter.

"Our starters in the second half need to do a better job of coming out of the locker room better and getting into the flow of our offense," Tanaka said. "We need to take better care of the ball and get better shots out of the half."

The Indians kept battling, as junior Jake Smith knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to start the fourth, cutting the Metea lead down to eight points. Smith had a game-high 15 points for the Indians.

"Coach Tanaka always says that there are some scorers on this team, and when they're not playing well, others need to step up," Smith said. "I was just finding open spots on the court and hitting my shots."

The rally soon fell short, as Metea eventually opened it back up to a 16-point lead before closing out with a 64-49 victory over Minooka. For the Indians, its the first losing streak of the year.

"Just like yesterday, coach said there was a lot of positives to take out of that loss, and today I feel the same way," Smith said. "This loss can only make us better."

Minooka will play Saturday at 1:15 p.m. to determine seventh place in the tournament.

"A 2-2 record, especially when you get to the winners bracket, is something to be happy about," Tanaka said.

"We're developing as a team because we're still very young and really haven't hit our highest level," Smith added. "So of course to go 2-2 would be good for us."

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