By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle
The 6-foot-2, Raider junior center, put on quite a show in Bolingbrook’s Class 4A Oswego Regional Championship game on Thursday night against Minooka. All the talented junior did was score 15 points, haul down 16 rebounds, block five Minooka shots and add two steals, in leading the Raiders, past the Indians 56-49. Junior Gabby Smith took home Raider scoring honors, scoring 17 points and grabbing four rebounds.
In the final game of her illustrious Minooka Indian career, senior Brooklyn Bachmann, took home game scoring- honors with 25 points. Bachman scored 14 of her game-high 25 points, in the fourth quarter.
Bolingbrook behind Jahari and Gabby Smith led 47-38 with two minutes remaining in the game. The Indians unleashed a full-court press, that resulted in five steals and after Bachmann buried a three from 20-feet, the Indians were down just 49-45, with 42 seconds remaining.
The best-supporting actress award in this drama, would go to 5-foot-5 Raider freshman, Jayden Marable. After Bachmann’s three, Marable was fouled and nailed a pair of charity tosses, for a 51-45 Raider lead. Minooka misfired and Marable was fouled again and hit another free throw, to restore order for the victorious Raiders.
Marable scored all seven of her points, in the crucial fourth quarter.“We didn’t play well down the stretch but I just took a deep breath and made the clutch free throws,” Marable said. “We really don’t care who we play on Tuesday. We are confident that we can go to East Aurora and win.”
Minooka jumped out to a 14-8 lead after one quarter behind Bachmann and sophomore Savannah Johnson (6 points, 3 rebounds).
Bolingbrook outscored Minooka 19-1 in the first six minutes of the second quarter. Gabby Smith, buried a pair from three-point land. Jahari Smith scored only four points in the eruption but had a pair of key steals, had two huge blocked shots, that totally annihilated the Indian inside game thereafter. She also hauled down four rebounds. Raider sophomore Arielle McElroy, found the mark for three, to help lead the Raiders to a 27-17 lead at halftime.
“This was an exciting win for us.” Jahari Smith said. “We played well and I didn’t want to leave anything on the floor tonight. I didn‘t want this to be our last game of the season. Huge win for my team and we want to go to East Aurora and win.”
Minooka closed within 35-29, behind sophomore Cierra Bachmann ( 8 points, 4 steals), senior Hailey Arlis (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Brooklyn Bachmann, after thee quarters.
“This was a huge win for us. I am so proud of my teammates,” Gabby Smith said. “I played well tonight but turned the ball over too much. I have to work on that.”
The Indians struggled at the free-throw line, making only 15 of 28, for the game. Brooklyn Bachmann was just 7-for-13, from the charity stripe.“This loss is on me,” Brooklyn Bachmann said. “ I didn’t make my free throws and had a bad night. What’s frustrating is I had to have a bad night, in my last game of my Minooka career. I’m really proud of the way we rallied in the fourth quarter. I really thought we were going to pull it out. This loss really hurts.”
Taylor Robinson chipped in with 10 points for the Raiders.
Up next for the Raiders, will be a Tuesday, February 21 date with the Bengals of Plainfield East at 7:30 in the second semifinal of the Class 4A East Aurora Sectional. Plainfield East surprised Oswego East 51-48, to win their Class 4A Plainfield East Regional championship.
“We played well tonight but we must improve on finishing up the game,” Bolingbrook head coach Chris Smith said. “If we are going to going to go down state, we can’t finish the game the way we did tonight. Jahari and Gabby played well for us and my freshman Jayden Marable, hit some big shots for us in the fourth quarter.”
Minooka bows out after another tremendous season for the Indians, at 24-4.
“We just couldn’t make our free throws tonight, “ Minooka head coach Ray Liberatore said. “I am so proud of the way we came back in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn is a great player and played as such in the fourth quarter.
We had a very successful season.”