CHANNAHON – Minooka's boys basketball team has dedicated itself to defense.
As a result, the Indians are playing their best basketball of the young season and in position to win their own holiday classic.
Minooka (5-5) improved to 2-0 during the four-game tournament after beating Pontiac 54-36 Tuesday at Minooka's south campus.
"We've been playing a lot better defensively," 6-foot-5 junior forward Lavell Dean said. "We've been giving each other a lot of help. Defense wins ballgames."
"Our last conference game against Plainfield East is where it started," Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. "We've been really aggressive. We changed things up, lost by two points to Plainfield East, gave up 22 points Saturday to Morris and beat a good Pontiac team by almost 20."
During the tournament, the Indians are allowing an average of a little more than seven points per quarter.
"Our defense is helping us out and it's really helping us out on offense," Tanaka said. "The kids have bought into everything we've been preaching as a collective unit."
"Our defense has been really good due to playing help side," 6-4 junior forward Adam Reynolds said. "Guys aren't quitting. That's the main thing."
After Pontiac (4-8) opened the game with a three-pointer, Minooka scored 13 straight points and never looked back. Reynolds' rebound and basket gave the Indians a 13-3 lead late in the first quarter.
Minooka led 13-5 after a quarter.
Reynolds' basket from Dean made it 19-5 a minute into the second half.
Minooka led 28-18 at the half. Like it did in the first half, Pontiac scored the first bucket of the third quarter.
Again, Minooka went on a run, scoring nine straight points to take a 37-20 lead on Adam Holstine's jumper midway through the third quarter. The Indians led 46-27 after three quarters.
Dean finished with team-highs of 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds. Reynolds added 11 points by hitting 4-of-8 shots and six boards. Ben Heide, a 6-3 junior guard, chipped in eight points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots.
Monday's tournament action was postponed because of snow. Minooka takes on Rich East Wednesday and Ottawa Thursday on the final day of the tournament.