A big debut : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|A big debut |
|Oswego boys' basketball team clinches third place at Proviso West Tournament |
|by Kristin Sharp|
Stevenson was certainly aware of All-Tournament selections Miles Simelton and Elliot McGaughy.
But Patriots head coach Pat Ambrose did not have a scouting report on Oswego sophomore Zach West.
The 6-foot-3 guard had missed the first month of the season with a broken growth plate in his ankle, and made his varsity debut on in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament game.
With Oswego holding a narrow 45-44 lead over Stevenson entering the fourth quarter of Monday's third-place game, West came off the bench to hit two three-point baskets over a five-minute span. When the second triple of the quarter fell, Oswego held a more comfortable 56-49 lead.
"It's been difficult. I don't really know most of the plays and they had to teach me as I was playing," West said. "Right when I was cleared it was a lot of running and shooting trying to get back in the flow of basketball.
"I felt like my legs were under me. I was a little nervous at first, a little shaky, but once I hit it, I just got into the game and into the flow of things," West continued.
No. 20-ranked Stevenson (10-4) would never recover from the scoring deficit as No. 9 Oswego celebrated a 72-66 victory and brought home the third-place trophy from the prestigious tournament on New Years Eve.
"I thought we were going to be good, but I didn't know how good we were going to be," said Simelton, who poured in a game-high 28 points with five assists and four steals. "We're gelling as a team well right now and everyone is doing their contributions and playing their roles."
With the win, Oswego improves to 11-2 overall and marks the best holiday tournament finish for the Oswego boys' basketball team in more than a decade, with a fourth-place finish at York's Jack Tosh Tournament in 2008.
"It's pretty cool for our guys. They came here and represented our school and our program very well," Oswego head coach Kevin Schnable said.
The final eight teams in championship play on Monday were all ranked among the top 20 area teams, as No. 3 Morgan Park (13-1) defeated No. 4 Proviso East (10-3) for the tournament championship, 82-57. No. 11 Benet (14-3) topped No. 19 Bogan (8-5) for fifth place.
"I think it's nice to play against good competition. It gives us a measuring stick as to where we're at, and boosts our confidence knowing we can beat teams that are highly-ranked like we are," Simelton said.
Oswego and Stevenson played nearly point-for-point through the first three quarters, with the game tied at 13 points after eight minutes, and Oswego owning a 26-25 halftime lead.
The Panthers' one-point lead was expanded to start the fourth quarter when West opened with a three-pointer - his second of the game after coming off the bench.
"He played like he didn't know any better, and he doesn't. He's a sophomore and he doesn't have one practice under his belt so we're throwing him into the fire at the Proviso West Tournament," Schnable said. "He just got cleared to play here. He's responded well. He stepped up big time and hit some shots. We needed a third scorer and he gave us that lift."
Foul trouble started to plague both teams as several players on the floor had four fouls against them. McGaughy (21 points, five rebounds) was whistled for his fourth just 6:10 into the fourth quarter, but did not receive another call against him in the game. His three-pointer pushed Oswego's lead to five, 53-48.
"The second half we did a better job of playing our way," Schnable said. "We missed some short shots that led to frustration fouls, but at least we were pushing the ball and racing the pace, attacking the basket. I felt like in the first half we were just settling for outside shots. We coupled that with a lack of effort on the offensive glass. The second half we played better, more aggressive. The result is it opens things outside, and we shot much better in the second half from the arc; we shot 5 out of 7."
Senior Jamaal Richardson induced a steal and Oswego called a timeout with possession at the 3:25 mark. West (10 points) came out of the break and hit another three-pointer for a 56-49 score.
Stevenson's only points for the next 1 minute, 25 seconds would come at the free-throw line, and Oswego led 62-54 after a McGaughy basket and pair of Simelton free throws with 1:26 left on the clock.
Simelton went a perfect 12-for-12 at the foul line for the game, scoring eight in the fourth quarter alone to push Oswego's lead to nine, 70-61, with 47 seconds remaining.
Stevenson's Andrew Stempel (20 points) scored five late points on a layup and three-pointer, but it was not even to come close on the scoreboard.
"This is the first year we're in this tournament and we definitely represented Oswego well, and our conference well," Simelton said. "We came out here and played our hardest."
Stevenson sophomore standout Jalen Brunson was held to one field goal in the fourth quarter after scoring most of his 18 points through the first three quarters. Brunson sank a three-pointer in the final tick of the first quarter to tie the game at 13 points.
McGaughy answered with a triple to start the second quarter, but Stempel hit one behind the arc and teammate Connor Cashaw (16 points, 13 rebounds) followed with a basket to tie the game at 18 points midway through the period.
Oswego senior Darion Reddick - one of five Panthers to score from long distance - hit his triple to put Oswego ahead once again. Two minutes later, McGaughy was fouled on his layup after an assist by Simelton, and completed the three-point play for a 26-22 lead.
Oswego would go into halftime with a 26-25 lead, but trailed 29-26 after consecutive Stevenson baskets to start the third quarter.
McGaughy's tip-in was followed immediately by senior center Jack Kwiatkowski's steal. Kwiatkowski claimed possession and sent a long pass to Simelton down the court for another two points and a 30-29 Panther lead.
Stevenson battled back, leading 39-35 and 43-40 late in the third, but West made one at the foul line, McGaughy came through with a layup and Simelton hit a jumper for a 45-44 Oswego lead. The final eight minutes belonged to Oswego, and Stevenson never led.
"I felt like the other day after we got beat (by Proviso East), in the locker room we had the proper perspective," Schnable said. "Moving on to the next game, it's not like we had a cupcake today. We just beat the 20th-ranked team. We knew we had to bounce back. Prior to today, we felt like it was a good showing here. Today, it's an exclamation to a great showing by the kids."
Oswego returns to the court on Tuesday, hosting Plainfield Central at 6:30 p.m. in Southwest Prairie Conference action before visiting Minooka on Jan. 11.
Notes: Following Oswego's 66-35 win in the tournament opener on Dec. 22, the Panthers moved into the championship bracket last Thursday and defeated New Trier 64-39. Simelton scored 11 points with six rebounds, Reddick had 18 points and McGaughy had a team-best 28 points in the win. Kwiatkowski pulled down six boards.
Oswego never trailed in a 64-43 win over Homewood-Flossmoor in the quarterfinals last Friday. The Panthers opened with a 10-0 lead thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Simelton, who finished with a game-high 28 points. Reddick scored 11 and McGaughy nine.
Oswego turned 24 turnovers into 25 points as McGaughy had four steals and Kwiatkowski and senior Danny Mangers had three each.
Oswego faced defending tournament champion Proviso East in the semifinal game last Saturday in a second meeting between teams this year. Oswego won the first contest, 68-59, in the Hoops for Healing tournament in late November, but Proviso East avenged the loss with a 79-55 win to advance to the title game against Morgan Park.
Proviso East went on a 13-0 run at the start of the game to lead 13-2 and Oswego trailed by as much as 15 points in the first quarter. The Panthers clawed back, 31-28, late in the first half, but Proviso East continued its scoring runs in the second half to hold a double-digit lead.
Simelton had 21 points and McGaughy scored 13 in the loss.