Goss: Minooka takes positives from loss to Stagg
By Dick Goss email@example.com December 27, 2012 11:22PM
Darien, IL - Wednesday, December 26, 2012: Minooka's Neal Tyrell (15) runs into Hinsdale South's barret Benson (53) during the Hinsdale South Boys Christmas Tournament. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:20AM
Minooka made 14-of-50 shots in Thursday’s 50-44 quarterfinal loss to Stagg in the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament. That calculates to a meager 28 percent.
Included was 6-of-28 accuracy from three-point range.
Stagg (10-2) went on an 18-0 run to take a 22-4 lead after one quarter, and the Chargers opened the second half with a 13-2 spurt to lead 39-24.
Despite all of that, Minooka (8-3) was right there at the end as junior guard Neal Tyrell nailed his third three-pointer of the game to pull the relatively inexperienced Indians to within 48-44.
It was not a victory in the record books, but it may be a huge learning experience for a program shooting for its second straight 20-win season after having gone more than three decades without one.
“You’re not going to win any game shooting 28 percent against a good team, and Stagg is good,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “But I do feel we got better today.
“We learned you can’t take away the first quarter. We got hit in the jaw, got hit in the mouth, real well. We learned how hard you have to work from the start against a good, quality team, and we did work harder as the game went on.”
In fact, the Indians outscored Stagg 18-4 in the second quarter to get back in it. This was one of those occasions when you wish you could have skipped halftime and kept the momentum going.
“We played hard,” senior guard Darrin Myers said. “We executed, we just couldn’t make shots.”
“We’ve generally been shooting well all year,” said senior guard Jake Hogen, who led Minooka with 16 points while Myers added 11. “I’m pleased with how we battled (Thursday). The way it went early, it would have been easy to throw in the towel.
“In a game like this, it doesn’t do you any good to keep chucking the ball up there.”
Instead, the Indians continued to run what Tanaka and his staff preach. Dedication to the system will pay off in the long run.
“Each year you need guys who are willing to step up and take a role as leaders,” Tanaka said. “Darrin (Mayer) and Jake (Hogen) have done that, but other seniors (Perry Jones, Adam Holstine and Kevin Stelmaszek) also have bought into what we do, whether they play much or not.
“That’s what we need to be successful. We have the most supportive bench that we’ve had since I’ve been at Minooka.”
Tanaka feels the Indians have a golden opportunity to grow this week. The winners’ bracket of the Hinsdale South Tournament is that good, that competitive.
Minooka will face Metea Valley at 3 p.m. Friday and is sure to see another quality opponent Saturday. That’s why the 54-53 victory over host Hinsdale South in Wednesday’s opening round was so vital.
“In a Christmas tournament like this one, you just hope you can get that first win,” Tanaka said. “Especially in a year like this, that guarantees you three quality opponents. This is a loaded winners’ bracket.”
“The way the top eight teams here are all good, we have a chance to play good teams and still go home 3-1,” Hogen noted. “That would be big for us.”
Freshman forward Joe Butler was huge in getting Minooka to this point.
“Joe Butler made some phenomenal defensive plays that won us the (Hinsdale South) game,” Tanaka said. “It’s hard to take him off the court. He defends the opponents’ best offensive player. He has a very bright future.”
After the tournament, Minooka will return to the Southwest Prairie wars. The Indians have proven they are perennial players in the league title chase.
The ability to run with the big dogs in a Christmas tournament, even on a subpar shooting night, is another benchmark of a program that belongs.
“We’re still a very young team,” Tanaka reminded. “With only two guys with much varsity experience, we expected the wins and losses to take time. To have the record we have is a testament to the dedication of the seniors. They have stepped up.”