Cooper Schmid leads Cougars past Minooka in another 'Battle of Ridge Road'
Last updated 3/11/2021 at 11:24am
On Wednesday night the Minooka Indian boys' basketball tea, boarded their bus for the 8.5 mile ride up Ridge Road to Plainfield South High School.
In another edition of the traditional 'Battle of Ridge Road' rivalry, the two schools met in a Southwest Prairie Conference postseason tournament quarterfinal.
Led by 6-foot-5 senior Cooper Schmid, the host Cougars held off the Indians 66-62.
Schmid scored 24 points, hauled down 18 rebounds, blocked three Indian shots, dished out four assists and added three steals. Other than that, Schmid didn't do too much on Wednesday night.
Plainfield South (8-3) led 21-12 after one quarter behind a dozen points from Schmid.
The Cougars led 37-29 at halftime and 50-45 after three quarters, Schmid had 20 points and 11 rebounds after three quarters.
The final eight minutes of this edition of the battle of Ridge Road, was very similar to the hundreds of previous rivalry games.
Just when you thought the game was over, it wasn't.
Indian juniors Ricky Hill Jr, and Trent Hudak, would score four points in the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, to pull the Indians within one at 50-49 with 7:11 remaining in the game.
Cougar baskets from junior Kenyi Callahan (seven points) and Amarion Molette (15 points) and Plainfield South led 54-49 lead with 4:51 on the clock.
Indian senior Jake Faron's (16 points) score was followed by a clutch 12-footer in the lane from Cougar sophomore Nolan Gerdich (seven points) for a 56-51 Cougars lead with three minutes remaining in the game.
"Nolan (Gerdich) is just a sophomore but he hit that clutch shot for us and is very talented," South coach Tim Boe said. "We see his talent every day in practice."
Molette split two free-throws and Schmid's huge put-back basket put the Cougars up 59-51 with a minute and a half to go.
Hill scored for Minooka and five charity tosses from South senior Brennan Phillips (2), Schmid (2) and Molette (1) gave the Cougars a 64-53 lead with 59 seconds left.
The Minooka uprising began.
Hill (13 points) naiedl a pair of free-throws, stole the Cougars inbounds pass and feed fellow-junior Hudak (16 points) for two, pulling the Indians within 64-57 with 38 seconds left.
Hudak again stole the Cougars inbound pass and scored and all of the sudden the Indians were within five at 64-59 with 32 seconds left.
"We knew they were never going to give up," Boe said of Minooka. "I was not upset with our late turnovers. Minooka was playing that hard."
Schmid split two of four free throws and the Indians threw the ball away with 15 seconds remaining and the Cougars up 66-59. Hudak buried his third long-range three for the 66-62 final score.
"We started out fast and came away with the big win tonight," Molette said. "All my success tonight I owe to my teammates. I didn't start tonight but I played well for my team. We want to avenge our senior night loss to Oswego East on Friday night and then win the SPC on Saturday."
"Everybody contributed to our big win tonight," Schmid said. "Amarion (Molette) really was fired up coming off the bench for us tonight and our sophomore Nolan Gerdich hit a big shot for us in the fourth quarter. I played well tonight. It was one of the greatest games of my career. It should be a great game at Oswego East on Friday. We want to avenge our senior night loss to Oswego East and then beat Joliet West on Saturday for the SPC championship."
Up next for the Cougars will be a Friday night, SPC Post-Season "Final 4" semifinal battle at SPC West champion Oswego East (10-2).
"Amarian didn't start tonight and it really seemed to fire him up and he played well," Boe concluded. "Cooper was outstanding again for us and we really would like to win the SPC championship."