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On the cusp : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
On the cusp
Oswego East boys' basketball team showing improvements

by Brad Vonck


The Oswego East boys' basketball team lost to an impressive Plainfield East squad by a score of 79-58 in their Southwest Prairie Conference opener last Friday.

Combined with a loss at Bartlett on Tuesday, Oswego East falls to 0-6 on the year (0-1 in conference). Plainfield East moves to 4-1 (2-0 in conference).

Plainfield East took control of the game early through strong transition play, converting multiple Oswego East turnovers into easy points. The Wolves' defense also forced their share of turnovers early, but struggled to take advantage of those opportunities offensively.

The Wolves' lack of offense was due to poor shot selection and early foul trouble for many of their starters. Oswego senior point guard Mike McAllister was forced to sit for a majority of the first half after getting his third foul with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. Oswego East relied heavily on its defense to try to keep them in the game early, but had fallen behind by a score of 20-8 by the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter mirrored the first as the Wolves struggled to match the Bengals' offensive attack. After both teams exchanged small runs, Plainfield East ended the first half on a 10-2 run led by strong outside shooting from Bengals' senior guard Nick Novak, which put Oswego East in a 40-22 hole at the half.

Oswego East first year head coach Steve Szymanski felt his team made it too easy for the Bengals in the first half.

"I thought our defense in the first half wasn't bad, but our transition defense was terrible", said Szymanski. "We can't give up easy buckets to a team like that, especially when we knew they were going to run the floor well."

The second half saw an Oswego East team with renewed purpose, as they attempted to claw their way back into the game. With McAllister back on the court, the Wolves were more efficient on offense, and created less turnovers. Although Oswego East was still down 65-42 at the end of the third quarter, they had gained confidence by successfully keeping pace with the Bengals.

The fourth quarter provided Oswego East with their best opportunity to get back into the game. The Wolves traded baskets with Plainfield East for much of the quarter, until a late surge by Oswego East had the Bengals on their heels. The Wolves orchestrated a 13-4 run through a combination of strong play at the point guard position by McAllister and the offensive production of both senior forward Devin Flowers and sophomore forward Demetrius Ewing that brought the Wolves within striking distance late in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, Plainfield East was able to pull away late. It was an off night for the Wolves overall, but the strong performances of Flowers and Ewing gave the Wolves hope in the second half.

Flowers led the Wolves in scoring with 26 points and a 54.5 percent field goal percentage. Szymanski was pleased with the progress Flowers has made adjusting to his new team.

"Devin has stepped it up the last few games as far as scoring goes, and he's attacked the glass," said Szymanski. "The first couple of games I think he was getting used to the guys, being a new guy at our school. I think he's getting comfortable and he knows his role and what he's supposed to do."

Ewing's play was also impressive as he knotted 15 points, while McAllister added 9 points in only 21 minutes of play due to foul trouble.

Szymanski was proud of his team's effort to attempt a comeback after a dismal first half.

"We picked up the intensity, and we didn't give up as many transition buckets, but we've got to rebound better and get back on defense," said Szymanski.

Moving forward, Szymanski believes his team has obvious areas that are in need of improvement, but overall that the team is at the cusp of putting it all together.

"We're right there, I think we are playing hard, our shots aren't falling like obviously we would like them to," said Szymanski. "We've just got to continue to work, continue to get better every single day, and we'll be right back at it."

The Wolves will look to get their first win of the season Friday night at home versus undefeated conference foe, Plainfield North (5-0, 1-0 in conference).

Notes:_On Tuesday against Bartlett, Oswego East fell 57-49 to the Hawks. Freshman Trevor Ross had a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds, senior Jeremy Mitchell had eight points and junior Houston McCullum chipped in with eight points and 14 rebounds. Junior Jalen Williams had seven points and five boards.

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