CHANNAHON – Minooka last won a boys basketball regional in 1977. Players are reminded of the drought every time they step into the gymnasium.
“During practices, we always look up at that board,” senior captain Jake Smith said. “There’s not a date on there since 1970-something, so we’re trying to get a date up there, 2013-14 – conference, something. We’re just trying to get something up there.”
Smith scored more points per game (5.5) in last season than any of the Indians’ other returnees. Their top two scorers, Darrin Myers and Jake Hogen, both graduated.
As Minooka looks to replace the nearly 23 points per game it received from Myers and Hogen, coach Scott Tanaka plans to lean heavily on its largest senior class in years. Along with Smith, the class includes guards Cody Bresnahan, Mike Cappel, Shane Taylor and Neal Tyrell, swingmen Adam Alexander and Lucious Armstrong and center Mark Geers.
Four juniors – guards Austin Guglielmucci and Jaleel Johnson, and forwards Peter Andreano and Kent Hudson – and two underclassmen who are brothers – sophomore swingman Joe Butler, and freshman guard Jonny Butler – fill out the roster. Joe Butler started every game in 2012-13, and Tanaka said Jonny Butler will be the starting point guard.
“When we won that 20 and 17 games back-to-back, we had ... at least one or two kids that averaged double figures the year before. We don’t have that at all this year,” Tanaka said. “What we do have, though, and I’ll say it over and over again, is just a great group of seniors that have bought into everything that we’ve taught as coaches.”
Tanaka said Minooka will play the most difficult schedule in its history this season, citing the addition of the 32-team York holiday tournament. Within the Southwest Prairie Conference, he expects more balanced competition.
“I don’t think we have a top-five team in the state this year, but I do feel like it will be a competitive game, a tough game, each and every game,” Tanaka said. “There’s gonna be a lot of parity in our conference this season.”
One team that will be tougher than some expect, Smith said, is Minooka.
“A lot of people are doubting us this year, but we know that we’re strong, competitive,” Smith said. “Because we’ve been so close [as a class] the past four years, we think we’re gonna pull out a really nice season.”