CHANNAHON – With about seven seconds left Friday and his boys basketball team down, 47-46, to Minooka, Plainfield Central’s Logan Velasquez did what he had done all game. He took the ball at the wing and drove to the basket.
He got all the way through the lane and put up a reverse layup. The ball bounced off the backboard and off the back rim. Then, it bounced again. And again.
Just as it looked like it might actually come to a complete stop, the ball rolled forward through the hoop, giving the Wildcats a 48-47 lead with 1.3 seconds left. After a couple of timeouts, Central’s Robbie Brooks intercepted the inbounds pass, heaved the ball into the air and the Wildcats claimed the thrilling Southwest Prairie Conference win.
“That ball was up there [on the rim] for a long time,” said Velasquez, who led Central with 20 points and 14 rebounds. “I knew I had more speed than their big guy, so I took it to the hole.”
Twice earlier in the quarter, Velasquez drove the lane, only to dish off to Jamal Harmon for a basket each time. The last time, though, it was all Velasquez.
“I wanted to shoot it,” he admitted. “But, if Jamal was open, I would have passed it to him.”
The last-second loss negated a furious comeback by Minooka, which trailed 40-33 with 5:02 left and took the lead with 10 seconds left on a lob pass to Mark Tomac-Geers. Tomac-Geers finished with 12 points.
“Our kids played well overall,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “We did miss too many free throws, though. I know we missed at least four front ends of one-and-ones. You can’t do that in a close game against a good team like Plainfield Central.
“My heart goes out to our seniors. You always want to win their last home game and to lose one like this at the last second is really tough. They have worked so hard. But we have another game to get ready for, then the playoffs.”
Joseph Butler led Minooka with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Tomac-Geers had 12 points. Neal Tyrell delivered nine points and Adam Alexander scored seven.
After starting the season 2-6, Central improved to 11-12 overall and 7-6 in the SPC. Minooka is 14-14 overall, 7-6 in conference.
“We are playing more as a team and to our potential,” Velasquez said.