MINOOKA — It was everything you wanted out of a high school basketball game and then some. Great defense, tightly contested, and a close finish at the end.
Unfortunately for Minooka Tuesday night, they were on the losing end of the thrilling contest, dropping a 50-48 decision to the Oswego East Wolves at home.
It was the finish of the game that had everyone talking Tuesday, as the Indians were able to rally from a 12-point deficit in the half to take their first lead, 41-39, with just under five minutes to play in the game.
After Oswego re-took the lead, the Indians would get it back, going up 48-47 after a Jake Smith three-pointer put Minooka up one. A basket from the Wolves' Scooter Smith, however, would give the lead back to East.
With 15 seconds left, the Indians had the ball. Senior guard Darrin Myers drove the basket, but was called for an offensive foul, giving possession back to Oswego.
"When I went to the basket, I saw the defense moving, so I decided to take off and try to draw contact," Myers said. "I guess the ref saw different, and I can't change that one bit."
"We always talk about a charge changing the game late in the game, and that really helped us big time," Oswego coach Ron Murphy said.
After a made free throw from C.J. Vaughn, Minooka had one last shot to win the game. Unfortunately, they couldn't get anything to go, as the Indians dropped only their second Southwest Prairie Conference game of the season.
"We were aggressive in the final two minutes in attacking the rim instead of settling for stuff on the perimiter," East head coach Ron Murphy said. "We didn't really have our stuff going, and I think getting to the rim helped a lot."
The Indians might have been playing on tired legs, as they were playing their sixth game in five days after playing four games over MLK weekend in a tournament in Galesburg. Still, Minooka head coach Scott Tanaka is not going to make excuses.
"We're not tired. We don't have any excuses for the way we played tonight," Tanaka said. "We did a good job of battling. Their kids battled as well. It was a good high school basketball game."
"I think we're always ready to play a game, but we just didn't come out with enough energy," Myers added. "They started out the game with 100 percent intensity and we were at 65 percent. It had nothing to do with all the games we played this past weekend."
Defense was key for both teams, as both Minooka and Oswego East utilized their press defense effectively on each other. Both teams committed over 15 turnovers, resulting in sloppy play all throughout the night.
"Minooka does a nice job of that 2-2-1 zone they run," Murphy said. "It's not made necessarily to pressure you, but they do a great job of matching up and taking away the easy pass out of it."
Minooka has to put this tough loss behind them as they enter the second round of conference play Friday night on the road against Plainfield North. In their first meeting of the season, the Indians used am Adam Alexander layup with 11 seconds left to secure a 58-57 victory. This game should be just as good between the two teams.
"Plainfield North is a very tough team," Tanaka said. "We're going into their house, which is a very tough place to play in. I'm sure they're going to give us everything they got, and we'll give them everything we've got as well."