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The late, late show : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
The late, late show
Oswego East boys’ basketball enjoys fast start, but Panthers make second half comeback for win

by Kristin Sharp


The late, late show

Oswego East boys’ basketball enjoys fast start, but Panthers make second half comeback for win

By Kristin Sharp

A day of final exams and three basketball games preceded the much-anticipated showdown between the Oswego and Oswego East boys’ basketball teams last Friday, and overtime made for a late night on the hardwood.

Closing in on the 10 o’clock hour, the game came down to execution – and some much-needed energy – and the Panthers had both in a 58-51 overtime victory over the Wolves.

The game was a tale of two halves, with Oswego East (1-7, 1-2 Southwest Prairie) winning the first half with a solid defensive game plan that held Oswego junior and leading scorer Zach West scoreless as the Wolves assumed a 34-23 halftime lead.
But the Panthers’ defense was the story of the second half, holding Oswego East scoreless until the 2:40 mark of the third quarter and Oswego (4-3, 2-1 SPC) took the lead in the fourth quarter.

As the final minute ticked away, Oswego sophomore Brice Robinson knocked in a putback with 55 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 49. Oswego East head coach Steve Szymanski called a timeout with 30 seconds remaining and the Wolves wanted the final shot, but couldn’t connect at the rim to force overtime.

“They pretty much took the game to us in the first half with a 34-23 deficit. We felt like they were the better, more aggressive team in the first half and we flipped that in the second half,” Oswego head coach Kevin Schnable said. “We came out in the second half and got 10 consecutive stops. Our defense got filthy and nasty in the second half. We’re a young team and we were bending there a little bit in the first half, but we regrouped at halftime and took the game to them. We won the rebounds, we won the turnovers and we made more free throws than they attempted. We were very, very gritty and gutsy for a young group of guys playing in a game like this for the first time.”

Oswego freshman Jaylen Jones (11 points) was the first to score in overtime, and his layup gave the Panthers a 51-49 lead. Oswego East tried to rebound the loose basketball, but couldn’t take possession and the ball rolled out of the pileup on the court. Robinson was there to convert in the paint, giving the Panthers a 53-49 lead.
“We didn’t want to get too hyped up and just play basketball,” said Robinson, who was one of four Oswego starters playing in their first crosstown varsity showdown.
The Wolves missed four early shots, and Szymanski called another timeout with 1:49 to play. Oswego East scored its only basket in the overtime period when sophomore Demetrius Ewing (14 points) was fouled on a layup attempt and went 2-for-2 at the line with 30 seconds left.

Oswego East fouled Jones to stop the clock, and Jones sank both at the free-throw line. West made two trips to the line in the closing 18 seconds and went 3-for-4 as Oswego clinched the SPC win.

“There was a little bit there in the second quarter where they had a bit of a run and we weren’t playing as good defensively, but this was a tough one for them,” Szymanski said. “Their heads are down. This is a game the kids get pumped up for more than anything. They need to realize we made some good steps in the right direction. We’re going to see these guys again and we welcome the opportunity to play them again.”

Robinson, who finished with a game-high 16 points, scored the first two baskets of the game after being introduced in the Oswego starting lineup.

“It’s been a week since I’ve made a coaching mistake,” Schnable said. “Last Friday night he played so well in the third quarter and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t start him in the fourth quarter. He came to work this week and it was his hardest working week of practice. I’ve been riding him about his work ethic and he played a great game. He changed a lot of shots down low and made a lot of short shots.”

The Wolves started rolling behind Ewing’s basket, which tied the game at 8 before freshman Trevor Ross (14 points) sank two at the foul line and senior James Callegari followed up with a field goal for a 12-8 lead.

Callegari hit a three-pointer late in the first period and Ross came up with a steal and layup for a 17-10 advantage heading into the second quarter. Ross scored the next five points on a basket and three-pointer and Oswego called timeout with 6:44 left in the first half, but Ewing answered with a three-pointer and the Wolves led 26-10.

West, who averages 23.6 points per game, was made just two field goals in the game and went 8-for-10 at the free-throw line, scoring 12 points in the game. He also had a team-best 12 rebounds. Szymanski was pleased with his team’s defensive effort against one of the conference’s top players, and that defensive performance helped Oswego East assume a 34-23 halftime lead.

“We obviously knew Zach was key. Devin (Flowers) and (Jeremy Mitchell) did a great job defending him. He didn’t get a lot of looks and he didn’t get a lot of touches,” Szymanski said.

While Oswego East’s defense was sound in the first half, the offense became stagnant after halftime. The Wolves did not score until the 2:40 mark of the third period on Ewing’s basket, and that allowed the Panthers to close the gap on the scoreboard.

Jones hit the first shot of the second half, Robinson followed and sophomore Joe Hennessy knocked a basket in to cut the Panthers’ deficit to 34-29. West’s first basket of the game put Oswego within three, but Ewing and Ross sparked a 5-0 run as the Wolves led 39-35 entering the fourth quarter.

“We had a good week of practice. We really did,” Szymanski said. “We worked hard defensively, and I thought we did a good job. At the end, the shots weren’t falling. Defensively, we were right where we wanted to be. “

Sophomore Steven Frank scored early in the fourth, but the Panthers could not string together consecutive shots to take the lead until there was 3:07 left to play. West sank two at the free-throw line to tie the game at 45, but Ewing answered with a layup and Oswego East senior Mike McAllister went 2-for-2 at the line for a 49-45 game.

But Oswego went to the line twice more in the closing minutes, with Robinson and West adding one each before Robinson’s rebound basket to tie the game at the end of regulation.

“At the end when things got tough, guys were trying to do things on their own. We weren’t screening as well. I thought we ran our offense really well in the first half, but we got away from that in the final minutes,” Szymanski said. “Couple shots were coming up very short and I don’t know if they were tired or what it was. They just weren’t falling. I’m happy with their effort and we’re taking steps in the right direction.”

Oswego begins play in the Proviso West Tournament today, Thursday, at 8:30 p.m. against Maine South (7-1). The winner will play Friday at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of the No. 2 Morgan Park/T-F South game, while the losing teams play at 8:45 p.m. in the fieldhouse in the consolation bracket. The Proviso West tournament runs through Tuesday.

Oswego East will make its debut in the Romeoville Tournament today, Thursday, at Noon against No. 3 Argo. The winner moves forward in the bracket on Friday at 3:30 p.m. against the winner of the Reavis/ No. 2 Urban Prep game, while the losing teams head into consolation play on Friday at 9 a.m. The tournament runs through Monday.

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