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Back on track : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Back on track
Oswego snaps skid, picks up second straight win on Tuesday

by Laura M. Medina


After falling on hard times in the win-loss column over the last few weeks, the Oswego boys' basketball team ended a three-game skid with a 76-60 victory over Plainfield Central last Friday night in Southwest Prairie Conference play.

A win over Chicago Clemente on Jan. 18 as part of a weekend event marked the previous time the Panthers (9-10, 5-4) won, but a pair of subsequent losses at the Martin Luther King, Jr. tournament at Wheaton South plus a defeat to Plainfield South in the run that followed kept them from building any momentum.

It was difficult to determine the direction that last Friday's game would take in the first four minutes of the opening quarter, as both Oswego and Plainfield Central seemingly matched each other on the scoreboard.

However, with about 3:30 left and the game tied at 7-7, the Panthers strung together a 9-0 run, thanks in part to the efforts of sophomore forwards Steven Frank (four points) and Joseph Hennessy (three points).

The Wildcats responded with a 9-2 swing of their own in the last 1:48 to move within two of the lead (18-16) as they headed to the second.

"I wasn't thrilled with the way we closed out the first quarter, but we turned it around the second quarter and did the same thing in the third," Panthers head coach Kevin Schnable said. "We opened strong, and that's important in basketball, the way you start and finish quarters."

Oswego, paced by freshman Isiah Richardson's five points, outplayed Plainfield Central by a 9-3 margin in the first 2:09 of the quarter to take a 27-19 lead. With two baskets in the next minute, however, the Wildcats were back in contention.

With about 2:18 remaining in the first half, the Panthers held a 32-28 advantage and extended it by five points with freshman guard Jaylen Jones' three-pointer and junior guard Zach West's put-back as the time ticked away.

"That was a fun one," Schnable said. "We just needed a win to validate what we're doing and how hard these kids are working. It hasn't been effort mistakes; I'm really proud of the way we played.

"We played the right way, we dominated the boards, we caused 30 turnovers and only committed 16, which as fast as we play, we are going to lose the ball, and we overcame pour foul shooting. We just played well."

Momentum was definitely on the side of Oswego when the teams returned from halftime, as the home side reeled off the first five points of the third and ended up outscoring Plainfield Central 21-9 in the quarter. Six different players contributed for the Panthers, led by freshman Jaylen Jones, sophomore guard Malique Ross, and Hennessy, who each had four points.

"The momentum shifted our way, and that's the game," Schnable said. "We only gave up nine points in the third quarter, and we really got at it defensively as evidenced by the 30 turnovers they committed. I would like to think that we were a part of that, but it's a credit to the kids. We played a great game."

It was Oswego with the edge again in the fourth, as West opened the quarter with a long three-pointer in the first 36 seconds to extend the lead to 61-37.

West quietly racked up a team-best 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds on the night.

Plainfield Central was able to cut the deficit significantly with an 11-2 edge in the next two minutes of play, but the Panthers would not be denied a victory as they responded with 10-5 swing of their own to bring them to the 1:37 mark.

A 73-53 Oswego advantage allowed both teams to look to their benches as the clock wound down, and eventually, it was the Panthers that ended their skid with a successful outcome.

Aside from emerging victoriously, the Panthers boasted another balanced offensive and defensive performance. These aspects of their game had been present during their losing streak despite the tallies in the loss column.

Four players recorded double-digits in scoring aside from West, including Javon Jones (15 points), Frank (11), Jaylen (10) and Richardson (10).

Oswego also had a big night on the boards, out-rebounding Plainfield Central 50-34, thanks in part to West's 11, Frank's 10, and Richardson's seven.

After playing on the road for its previous six games, Oswego took solace in the fact that it returned to its recently-renovated home facilities for the first time since Jan. 10 to a crowd that was decked in red for the school's second annual Red Out, an event to support the American Heart Association and its encouragement of heart health.

"We needed a 'W' to validate what we're doing, how hard we're working," Schnable said. "These kids are busting it, and they're fighting through the grind. It's simple - just work hard and get better."

Notes: Oswego won its second straight game with a 76-47 win over Romeoville on Tuesday.

The meeting with the Spartans was postponed twice by weather, but the teams met Tuesday in Southwest Prairie Conference play and Oswego improved to 9-10 overall and 5-4 in SPC play with the victory.

Oswego built a secure 34-19 halftime lead and added 23 points in the third quarter to shut down Romeoville.

West had a game-high 20 points while sophomore Brice Robinson had 10 points and Frank hauled in nine rebounds. In total, the Panthers finished with 34 rebounds, four blocked shots and 14 steals.

Oswego will be looking to extend its run to three straight games when they visit cross-town rival Oswego East on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the second game of a doublehader that begins at 5 p.m. with the girls' contest.

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