MINOOKA – The Kyle and Keegan Graebner Show.
In Friday night’s Southwest Prairie Conference battle between Plainfield East and Minooka, the upstart Bengals were looking good. After finishing 4-21 in 2016-17, they appeared to be on their way to their fifth win, one more than all of last season.
Leading 47-39 with 6:37 left in the game, the Bengals and their vocal fans were confident of victory No. 5.
Sadly for the Bengals and their fans, Minooka’s twin guards, Kyle and Keegan Graebner, had other ideas as they powered the Indians to a 63-55 victory.
[Minooka's Adrian Gutierrez shoots over East's Collin Reed. (Larry Kane for Shaw Media)]
With 6:21 left, Kyle Graebner buried his second three of the game to pull the Indians within 47-42. Keegan Graebner picked up the first of his three fourth-quarter steals and fed senior guard Brandon Hill, cutting the East lead to 47-46 with 4:25 left.
Hill finished with a game-high 21 points and hauled down six rebounds.
“This was a great win for us tonight,” Hill said. “We never quit. I played well tonight and want to give credit to my teammate Grayson Hoffman (two points, nine rebounds) for a great pass that led to my final basket.”
[Plainfield East's Brian Robinson gets to the basket against Minooka's Xavier Hortde.]
A basket by East’s Brian Robinson (eight points, two steals) put the Bengals up 49-46 with 4:20 left. Minooka’s 6-7 Adrian Gutierrez (eight points, four rebounds) then scored a layup and Hill’s coast-to-coast layup gave the Indians a 51-50 lead with 2:49 left.
Two seconds later, the Bengals’ Colin Reed (eight points, four rebounds) gave East its last lead at 52-51.
Kyle Graebner answered with another 3-pointer and then Keegan Graebner put the game away, making six consecutive free throws.
[Minooka's Brandon Hill scores a layup.]
Keegan Graebner finished with 15 points, three steals, two rebounds and a blocked shot. Eight of his points and his three steals came in the 24-8 fourth-quarter Minooka run.
“Kyle and I have been in so many big games in our career, we knew what we had to do to be successful tonight,” Keegan Graebner said. “We executed well down the stretch.”
Kyle Graebner finished with 14 points, three rebounds and two steals. Eight of his points and his two steals came in the crucial fourth quarter.
“We just never quit,” Kyle Graebner said. “Although we were down eight in the fourth quarter, we felt we would come back and win.”
[Plainfield East's Collin Reed scoops up a shot.]
The twins combined to score 16 points and pick up five steals in the fourth quarter. Another successful performance for The Kyle and Keegan Graebner Show.
“The Twins did a great job for us in the fourth quarter,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “Brandon Hill had a great game and our 6-7 Adrian Gutierrez played well. A great team win and we are playing the rest of the season for our friend and fan of Minooka basketball, Jon Murley. Jon is very sick and the Indians are dedicating the season to him.”
[Minooka's Adrian Paige take the ball to the basket.]
The Bengals were led by Nick Smoldt, who had 12 points, including two 3-pointers off the bench. East nailed six 3-pointers in the first half to take a 30-26 lead at the break.
“We played well but just couldn’t finish at the end,” Smoldt said. “I came into the game with the idea to give us some energy off the bench.”
[Minooka's Kyle Graebner tries to block the shot of Plainfield East's Kyrell Daniel.]
The Bengals will return to SPC play next Friday at home versus Oswego (1-8, 0-3).
“We won four games all last year and we have won four already this season,” Plainfield East first-year coach Mike Fowler said. “We played well for the most part tonight but we are learning how to close games out. We have a lot of basketball left to improve in this area.”
An SPC battle for third place will take place next Friday when Minooka travels to Plainfield North (4-4, 2-1).