CHANNAHON – Friday night before the Plainfield East/Minooka Southwest Prairie Conference boys basketball game, Minooka senior Joe Butler was honored for scoring more than 1,000 career points.
Butler added to that total with a game-high 21 points, nine in the fourth quarter, to lead the Indians to a 52-48 victory. He also led his team with eight rebounds.
"I came into the game a little antsy," Butler said. "But my teammates did a great job of knocking down shots while I was trying to find my game."
Minooka (5-2, 2-0) led 38-35 entering the fourth quarter, but Plainfield East's Elyjah Goss scored four of his 16 points to give the Bengals a 39-38 lead.
Then Butler scored nine of the next 11 for Minooka for a 49-43 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
"I feel a little sense of pressure in the fourth quarter," Butler said. "But I like that and if the situation presents itself, I will try and take advantage. This is definitely a fun conference to play in. Every game is so competitive. Our team played great defense and we pride ourselves in that."
Both teams on fired from beyond the 3-point line in the first half. They combined for 11 threes and only six combined field goals inside the arc.
With Minooka leading, 13-8, in the first quarter, East (2-5, 0-2) hit five 3-pointers for all their points in the second quarter. Scotty Olsen hitting three consecutive attempts and Vinny Tarello added the next two. Minooka added three long-range shots and led, 26-23, at the break.
Minooka took advantage of the end of each of the first three quarters, hitting a shot at the buzzer to stop any momentum East had going. Blake Parzych rebounded his missed shot and put it in to end the first quarter. Torren Thomas hit a shot to end the half and Butler hit a three at the buzzer of the third quarter.
Larry Roberts added 16 points for the Indians as he hit four threes, three in the first half.
"Night in and night out, this is the way this conference is, there are quality teams that you always see," Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. "We pride ourselves with our defense and I thought tonight we did a real good job, except in the second quarter when we let them back in the game.
"You saw tonight in the fourth quarter why Joe (Butler) is the best player in the conference. He also the hardest worker.
"We executed pretty well when we had to and knocked down the free throws in the fourth quarter.
Minooka was 6 of 9 from the free throw line, going 6 of 7 in the fourth quarter, while the Bengals were only 8 of 16 on the night.
"Our goal each game is to get to the free throw line 20 times and knock down 80 percent," East coach Branden Adkins said. "Tonight we didn't do that and in a four-point game, that hurts.
"We battled and I thought our defensive effort was very good. Roberts is a great shooter for Minooka and we gave him some opportunities early and he knocked down those threes.
"This gym is a really tough place to play and they (Minooka) have a solid team. Plus, they took advantage of every situation at the end of the quarters."