MORRIS — The Minooka boys basketball team got some surprising news last week when former coach Scott Tanaka announced that he would leave the program and accept the head girls basketball position at Hinsdale South.
But, that didn't stop the Indians' summer program from moving forward, as assistant coach Jon Monti - a former head coach at Minooka - took the reins and guided the Indians in the 33rd Annual Morris Boys Shootout.
The Indians began their day with a 41-40 loss to Burlington Central before a 75-36 loss to West Aurora and a 53-50 win over Ottawa. The Indians had the lead with about a minute left against Burlington Central, but missed a free throw. Burlington Central made a three-pointer to take the lead, and Minooka had the ball with 12 seconds left, but could not score.
The Indians roster included Adrian Gutierrez, Jaden Johnson, Xavier Horde, Artayis Bradley, Carlos Hernandez, Evan Stonich, Trent Voss, Conner Hotoyac, Jordan Boe, Thomas English, Jake Faron, Ben Swindells, and Joel Degracia.
While Monti was in charge of Minooka's fortunes during the shootout, he said he would like to remain in the program, but not as the head coach.
"I have three kids under eight, and they are just getting to where they are doing their sports and stuff," he said. "I don't want to miss that, so I wouldn't have the time to take over the entire program."
Against Ottawa, Minooka got contributions from nearly everyone, as Boe, Stonich and Guriettez carried the load in the first half, while Horde, Hernandez and Johnson came up with big hoops in the second.
"Most of our games this summer have been close ones," Monti said. "It wa nice to end the day with a win, especially in a close game. We are getting some good game situation type of work.
"We don't have any real star players, so we have to play hard, play scrappy and play as a team. The kids have been doing a nice job of that."
Against West Aurora, Gutierrez was a force under the basket, providing a bulk of the Indians' scoring early and grabbing any rebound that came his way. A putback bucket by Gutierrez brought Minooka to within 14-9 midway through the first half.
Then, West Aurora took off.
The tight Blackhawk defense stifled the Minooka offene and went on a 20-0 spurt before Johnson hit a three-pointer with 1:35 left in the half to make it 34-12. Minooka got another basket by Johnson and one by Gutierrez to make the halftime score 40-16.
Minooka played even with West Aurora for the first eight minutes of the second half, and the score stood at 54-30 before another Blackhawk spurt. The game ended on a 21-6 run by West Aurora, with the only Minooka points coming on a three-pointer from Johnson and one by English.
"West Aurora is going to do that to a lot of teams," Monti said. "They were very good last year and have reloaded again this year. They are talented and they know where they should be on the court."