JOLIET – On a night where Plainfield South inducted its inaugural class into the Cougars Athletic Hall of Fame, coach Tim Boe was hoping for second proud moment from his boys basketball team.
Unfortunately, that plan came up just a bit short as Minooka’s Brandon Hill and Keegan Graebner converted on 5 of 6 free throws over the final 30 seconds to carry the visiting Indians to a 55-51 victory in Southwest Prairie Conference action Friday night.
Hill had a game-tying 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting while Graebner added 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting, including two 3-pointers. The Indians also got significant contributions from seniors Kyle Graebner and Adrian Paige, who scored 13 and nine points, respectively.
Junior guard Anthony Marmolejo led Plainfield South with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including four 3-pointers, while Diamond Presniakovas added 14 and Tyrell Ross-Childs chipped in 11.
Minooka (13-11, 5-4) started off hot from long distance, converting on 4 of 5 3-pointers, with the last made by Keegan Graebner that put the Indians up, 16-7, with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
“We came out hot but right now, we are struggling defensively,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “We’ve got to get better on the defensive side of the ball, but it was nice to get a win.”
“[The Indians] have good shooters,” Boe said.“They work hard in the offseason, and they have earned the right to do what they have done and they do it well.”
Minooka led, 18-10, after one quarter and extended it to 21-10 on Kyle Graebner’s 3-pointer a minute into the second quarter.
“Kyle is a good shooter for us,” Tanaka said. “He knows when he has an open look and that we want him to take it.”
Plainfield South (3-19, 2-7) started to warm up from long range and was able to trim the deficit to 26-21 on a Copper Schmid 3 with 2:10 left in the half.
Minooka made more a concentrated effort to get the ball down low in the second half and after Hill’s consecutive layups, the Indians’ lead was 38-29 with 2:53 left in the third quarter. Later Hill would follow with a 3-pointer as the Indians took a 45-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Plainfield South was roaring in the fourth quarter, playing aggressive defense and converting offensively to go on a 10-0 run capped by a Ross-Childs’ basket that closed the gap to 45-41 with 4:05 to play.
“We definitely have to work on closing games better,” Kyle Graebner said. “We just need to slow it down and take better care of the ball.”
“We turned the ball over quite a bit in the fourth quarter so we have to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball,” Tanaka said.
The Cougars drew as close as 50-48 on a pair of free throws by Presniakovas with 1:35 left but turned the ball over on their next possession, stopping the momentum they had built.