BLUE ISLAND – For the Minooka boys basketball team the shots were just not falling Tuesday night. Playing Oak Forest at the Class 4A Eisenhower Regional, the Indians struggled to find the bottom of the net in the second half losing to the Bengals, 35-27.
Unlike on Monday night when Minooka came out strong against Lincoln-Way North, the Indians struggled at the onset against Oak Forest. Adam Alexander, in fact, had the lone basket for the locals as the Bengals led 7-2 at the end of the first quarter. Minooka was 1-of-9 shooting in the period.
Things picked up in the second quarter for Minooka and the game turned completely around. Shooting 5-of-11 in the frame, the Indians got nine points from Joe Bulter in moving out to an 18-10 lead by halftime.
“The difference there was us defensively. Our motto the whole year is to defend and we defended there,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “That helps lead to some good offensive looks for you. That and Joe Butler knocked down some shots for us and it made things easier.”
Things would not go down so easily in the second half. In fact, Minooka made just three field goals after intermission out of 14 chances.
“The shots we got just would not go down,” Tanaka said. “We had numerous shots from within five to 10 feet ... got great looks. The ball just didn’t go in. I feel for the kids.”
Still, the game was tied at 25-25 with a little over three minutes to go when back to back turnovers led to field goals by Kyle Flanagan and Tom Shute. It fueled an 8-0 run that the Indians just could not recover from.
Joe Butler had 11 points for Minooka.
Minooka ends the season at 16-15.
In the other semifinal contest at Eisenhower, Thornwood defeated Sandburg, 60-53, behind 18 points by Donzel Vinson and 17 by Kaliph Fagan. Oak Forest and Thornwood meet for the regional championship at 7 p.m. Friday.