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Too little, too late : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Too little, too late
Oswego boys' basketball team falls to Maine South in Proviso West tournament opener

by Brad Vonck


A disastrous first quarter proved to be too much for the Oswego boys' basketball squad as they fell 72-52 to Maine South in the first round of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament last Thursday night.

The Panthers (4-5, 2-1 Southwest Prairie) found themselves in a large hole early as Maine South jumped out on a 17-0 run to begin the game. The Hawks (8-1) dominated Oswego during this stretch, capitalizing on strong ball movement and efficient shot selection that left the Panthers without an answer defensively.

Oswego's offense appeared very tentative to begin the contest, often settling for low-percentage jumpers as they seemed unable to penetrate the Hawks' defense. At the end of the first quarter, Maine South held a 27-5 advantage over the Panthers. The Hawks had shot 84 percent from the field in the first quarter, which included knocking in 4-of-5 three-point attempts.

Oswego head coach Kevin Schnable felt his squad did not show up in the first quarter.

"We slept walked the first eight minutes, but when you dig yourself a 17-0 hole against a team that plays that brand of ball, it's more like being down 25 or 30," Schnable said.

After a rough start, Oswego began to right the ship in the second quarter as the Panther defense applied more pressure to the Hawks. Oswego's offense also started to wake up, as the Panthers were able to trade baskets more consistently with Maine South.

The Panthers' offense revolved around the play of junior Zach West, who knotted nine of the Panthers' 17 first-half points.

Although the second quarter was a battle for both teams, the Panthers still found themselves trailing by a score of 40-17 at the break. Oswego's offensive woes in the first half included shooting just 20.7 percent from the field, and 2-16 from three-point range.

As the second half began, Oswego looked to build off their adjustments in the second quarter. The West-led Panthers did just that, beginning the third quarter on an 8-0 run that had Maine South on their heels. An off-night collectively for the Panthers, West (30 points) was the catalyst to any hopes the Panthers had of a comeback.

The Oswego defense did their part as well to keep Maine South within reach. Led by the play of senior Malique Ross, the Panthers forced 13 turnovers in the game, scoring nine points off of turnovers in the process.

Maine South only averaged 15 points per quarter the last three quarters of the game compared to their 27-point barrage in the first quarter. At the end of three quarters, the Panthers had cut Maine South's lead to 56-39.

Oswego continued to fight back against the Hawks in the final quarter. With 4:30 remaining, the Panthers had closed to within 10 points of Maine South after West's pair of free throws made it a 61-51 contest.

However, a significant drawback to the increased intensity of the Panther defense was the fact that Oswego found itself in late foul trouble. The Hawks were in the double bonus most of the fourth quarter, as they went 16-21 from the line in the second half to help seal their victory.

Schnable had hoped to contain the offensive firepower of Maine South through his team's preparation this week.

"They're a fundamental and physical team and their big three scored 49 points combined," said Schnable. "The scouting report and game plan were focused on the three of them, but they just lit us up."

The "big three" for Maine South included the performances of junior Caleb DeMarigny (14 points), senior Andrew Palucki (14 points) and junior George Sargeant (21 points).

As Schnable reflected on his team's performance, it was apparent that the success Oswego had in the second half only highlighted their missed opportunities in the first half.

"We cut it to 61-51 but we had to expend so much energy to get it back to that point and get it to respectable double digits that we just ran out of gas," said Schnable. "To our kids' credit, they battled back but it was too little too late."

In regards to underperforming at such a prestigious tournament, Schnable hopes to see his team seize these types of opportunities in the future.

"The reason why we get into an event like this is because it's a tough tournament," said Schnable. "Every team is here for a reason, including us. We need to work on approaching each and every game the same way, respecting each and every opponent the same way."

Oswego went on to lose a 55-53 nail-biter against Thornton-Fractional South on Friday night in the consolation bracket. Maine South lost in a close second round match against a highly-touted Morgan Park squad 60-56.

Against T.F. South, Oswego surged in the second half in hopes of overcoming an earlier 11-point deficit and pulled within two points (41-39) after three quarters of play. The lead changed hands five times in the final four minutes.

T.F. South led by three, but with six seconds left, sophomore Steven Frank was fouled on a three-point attempt. He went 2-for-3 at the line, but the putback attempt missed and T.F. South made one more at the line in the final two seconds for the win. West scored 20 points to pace the Panthers while Frank had a game-high 11 boards.

Oswego closed out tournament play on Monday against Von Steuben in consolation play, but results were unavailable at press time.

Oswego returns to the court on Tuesday, hosting Romeoville at 6:30 p.m. in SPC action.

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