Lemont continues to turn the corner, knocks off Minooka
Nojus Indrusaitis scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Lemont beat Minooka 70-47. Twins Matas and Rokas Castillo added 17 and 16 points, respectively.
The secret is out.
Lemont 6-5 sophomore Nojus Indrusaitis showed promise during the COVID-delayed pandemic season that came and went in a flash.
But now he’s the focus of Lemont’s offense and opponents’ game plans. He also has Big Ten offers from Illinois and Nebraska, with more sure to come.
He’s also not the only one to watch for a young Lemont team, which has only two seniors on the roster and none who starts.
Indrusaitis scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Lemont beat Minooka 70-47 on Tuesday night. Twins Matas and Rokas Castillo added 17 and 16 points, respectively.
But it all comes back to Indrusaitis.
“Everybody knows Nojus is our guy,” Lemont coach Rick Runaas said.
And he shows it with some guard-like moves.
“He’s got very good footwork,” Runaas said. “And the thing that he does technically very [well] is, when he goes to his bounce, he gets parallel to the ground — he goes from being 6-5 to being panther-like. His shoulder level gets to guys’ knee level. So he’s got great leverage that way and great balance.”
Indrusaitis looks at it in a less technical way.
“I try to create momentum by taking charges or getting blocks or rebounds, just play hard every day,” he said.
He has noticed the extra attention: “They’re trying to pressure me, deny me the ball and stuff.”
There was one sequence in which Indrusaitis was blocked on successive shots by Minooka’s Darren Anderson. But the next trip down the court, Indrusaitis went straight down the lane to score.
“I knew he couldn’t stick with me,” Indrusaitis said. “I pump-faked one time, and he blocked it. It’s fine, whatever. I just knew I had to take it back at him and score.”
But Indrusaitis also was fine with sharing some of the offensive responsibility with the Castillo twins, among others.
“I just try to get open,” Indrusaitis said. “But if they’re playing too hard on me, I just facilitate and let my teammates get the bucket.”
That’s what happened, with the Castillos playing what Runaas called their best game of the year.
“They were hitting shots, playing fast,” Indrusaitis said. “I know what they’re capable of.”
So does Runaas.
“I’ll be honest — we challenged them a couple of weeks ago because I’d been a bit underwhelmed,’’ Runaas said.
‘‘And they have picked it up immensely. This was our best game because it was their best game.”
Matas Castillo added five rebounds and two steals for Lemont (7-2).
“In the beginning of the season, it was kind of rough,” he said. “I haven’t been playing like myself. This game, I feel like it got me in a groove.”
Ricky Hill, who at 5-10 is shorter than everyone on Lemont’s roster, led Minooka (5-4) with 16 points and nine rebounds.