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An encouraging loss : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
An encouraging loss
Oswego East finds positives in 71-62 loss to Plainfield East

by Kristin Sharp


The numbers on the scoreboard indicated a loss for the Oswego East boys' basketball team last Friday night, but for head coach Steve Szymanski, it was a winning effort.

The Wolves kept pace with visiting Plainfield East - one of the top teams in the Southwest Prairie Conference - and even took a 26-24 lead over the Bengals late in the second quarter of play, but Plainfield East rallied in the second half to claim a 71-62 win.

Plainfield East improved to 10-7 overall and 5-2 in the SPC while Oswego East moved to 6-11 overall and 2-5 in the league.

"We're playing hard. I thought we played very hard defensively the past three games. We're doing things we need to," Oswego East head coach Steve Szymanski said. "We're doing a much better job of keeping our composure because games like that when the calls maybe aren't going our way, the kids usually get down and we didn't; we rose up and kept doing the things we needed to. It's tough to speak on a loss, but I'm proud of the way our kids played."

Oswego East dug out of a 4-0 hole to start the game to lead 11-9 on sophomore Demetrius Ewing's three-pointer. Seniors Mike McAllister and Devin Flowers combined to spark a 6-0 run and prompt an early Plainfield East timeout. Ewing was fouled after the break and went 2-for-2 at the line for a 19-11 Oswego East lead with less than 2:00 to play in the first quarter.

Oswego East built a 21-15 lead on junior Houston McCullum's basket to start the second quarter, but Plainfield East chipped away with help of a three-point play to tie the game at 21 with 6:38 to play in the first half.

McAllister's free throws created a 26-24 lead for the Wolves, but within a matter of moments, Plainfield East went on a run to take a 36-26 lead on junior Aaron Jordan's basket. The Bengals went into the locker room with a 38-28 halftime lead, taking advantage of some foul trouble on Oswego East freshman Trevor Ross and Ewing.

"In the second quarter, we didn't have a lot of scoring personnel in there," Szymanski said. "We got into foul trouble and it just made it tough. They were out there working and busting their butts, but without all our scoring options in the game it made it tough for us and then we were playing catchup from then on out."

McCullum scored the first four points for Oswego East in the second half and McAllister sank one from beyond the arc to put the Wolves back in the game, trailing 38-35. Despite their best defensive efforts, the Wolves could only close the gap to single digits but never establish the lead.

Oswego East went 7-for-10 at the foul line late in the third quarter for a 49-44 game, but Jordan added seven more to his point total to help the Bengals maintain a 53-44 lead entering the fourth quarter.

McAllister, who finished with a season-high 28 points on Friday, hit back-to-back three-pointers at the start of the fourth period for a 55-50 game, but Oswego East would get no closer on the scoreboard. Plainfield East went on an 11-4 run highlighted by Jordan's dunk at the 4:12 mark to put the Bengals ahead 66-54. Jordan finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Elyjah Goss scored 13 points.

"Jordan is going to get his points - he's a tough player - but I think Demetrius Ewing and Devin Flowers did a great job on him," Szymanski said. "Houston gave us a great look inside and he's a huge option for us. We're getting there. It's frustrating not getting a victory, but we're making steps in the right direction."

In addition to McAllister's game-high effort, McCullum scored 18 points. Szymanski noted McAllister's efforts helped off-set the absence of senior Jeremy Mitchell, who suffered a broken jaw on Jan. 18 at Downers Grove North.

"(Jeremy) and Mike have both been playing point for us, so Mike has had to step up and handle the whole point guard role himself," Szymanski said. "He did a great job and handled the pressure. He's been a guy that's been in foul trouble a lot this year and he did a good job staying out of foul trouble and really creating things for everybody. That's something we're going to need from him the rest of the year."

Oswego East will visit Romeoville on Friday at 6:30 p.m. before entering the Ernie Kivisto Shootout at East Aurora on Saturday, facing the host Tomcats in the final game of the day at 8 p.m.

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