With his team struggling to get anything going and the season on the line, Oak Forest’s 6-foot-9 center Kyle Flanagan did his best impression of a guard to turn the game around.
The Bengals and Minooka were tied at 25-25 with just under three minutes to go when Flanagan stole the ball from an Indians guard and ran the floor for a go-ahead layup that sent Oak Forest on its way to a 35-27 win in a Class 4A Eisenhower Regional semifinal in Blue Island.
“We were trapping on the ball screens and I don’t think he was ready for me to reach for the ball,” Flanagan said. “A big guy reaching in on a point guard, he didn’t see it coming.”
As Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke said, it was “the play of the game.”
The Bengals created another turnover on Minooka’s next possession and Tom Shute turned it into a layup.
Flanagan (15 points, 11 rebounds), Shute (10 points) and Jason Roland (7 points, 7 rebounds) each hit a pair of free throws over the final 1:11 to seal it for the Bengals (22-5), who will meet Thornwood in Friday’s final.
Joe Butler had 11 points and six rebounds for Minooka (16-15).
Down 23-18 after three quarters, Oak Forest outscored the Indians 17-4 in the fourth.
“At the end of the third quarter, I just looked at the guys and said ‘We’re not done yet.’” Manzke said.
Minooka scored just two points in the first quarter, five in the third and four in the fourth but was in position to win thanks to its stingy defense and a 16-3 second-quarter edge.
“We play very good defense,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “We had every opportunity late, and the shots just didn’t fall.”
Adam Alexander added seven points for Minooka.