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SPC victory twice as nice : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
SPC victory twice as nice
Oswego girls' basketball team rallies to defeat Oswego East, clinch SPC title

by Kristin Sharp


The last time an Oswego girls' basketball team put together an undefeated Southwest Prairie Conference season, the team finished the year at Redbird Arena in the Class 3A state tournament.

Now, the Panthers have an opportunity to repeat that perfect finish this week as the regular season draws to a close, visiting Plainfield North on Wednesday. Results were unavailable at press time.

Oswego (19-7, 12-0 SPC) traveled to Oswego East last Friday to face a dangerous crosstown squad that nipped at the Panthers' heels throughout the season in second place. Although Oswego East lost a heartbreaker to Minooka just days earlier, the Wolves were more than ready to upset the SPC leaders.

Oswego East (14-11, 9-3 SPC) built a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter of play, but Oswego battled back behind a stellar fourth quarter effort from junior guard Erin Sinnott to rally for a 56-54 victory over Oswego East.

"We haven't really had a test like this and it couldn't have happened at a better time, playing for the conference championship, heading into the (postseason) tournament, believing you can come back and win those type of games," Oswego head coach Chad Pohlmann said. "Give (Oswego East) a ton of credit; they really played well. That's the best I've seen them play the whole year. They have some really talented players and they were giving us problems. We just kept telling the girls to stay with it defensively."

Oswego East established an early 7-2 lead behind a three-pointer from senior Venita Parsons and four points from senior Julianna Wadsworth (10 points) before junior Nia Flowers knocked in a pair of three-pointers for a 15-12 score. Sinnott (27 points, 12 rebounds) answered with her own long-range shot to tie the game at 15 at the end of the first period, but Flowers (20 points) opened the second quarter with another triple and added another field goal moments later for a 23-15 score.

Parsons' basket gave the Wolves a nine-point edge and prompted an Oswego timeout, but the Panthers were still unable to convert at its basket, falling behind 27-19 before Sinnott scored a three-pointer to take the game into halftime, 27-22.

Oswego East opened the second half on a 5-0 run before Oswego junior Amri Wilder scored, but Flowers continued her stellar game with a layup, steal and subsequent basket for a 38-25 game with 4:00 to play in the third quarter.

"(Flowers) played awesome. She had a lot of fire and a lot of heart," Oswego East head coach Abe Carretto said. "That's what she's capable of. She played hard."

Sinnott and Wilder hit three-pointers for the Panthers to try and steal the game's momentum, but Oswego East maintained a 43-32 after another three-pointer from Flowers. A putback basket from Oswego junior Jordan Campbell (10 points) sparked the Panthers to finish the quarter on a 4-0 run, and Oswego scored the first four points of the fourth quarter for a 43-40 game.

"This is the first game that we've gone into halftime down, and especially in a conference game that's rough," Sinnott said. "We knew that being on the top (of conference) and being our rivals, they were gunning for us. Being one of the people our players look up to, I had to get everyone together and the only way I could do that was to score and get everyone focused. That was my goal. I wanted to win the game.

"I told coach at practice that I was not leaving the floor without a win tonight. We really want to finish out our prefect season. We deserve it."

Parsons (14 points) and Sinnott exchanged three-pointers on opposite ends of the floor, but Sinnott went on to score five more points to create a 10-point swing in Oswego's favor. The Panthers enjoyed their first lead of the game since the opening basket, taking a 48-46 advantage with 5:46 to play in the game.

"Erin Sinnott was just relentless out there," Pohlmann said. "She put the team on her back in the second half. Amri stepped up and made some nice plays down the stretch. I thought Jordan was really good around the basket all night and Krissy Klingbeil took a charge that was a huge momentum builder. We made enough free throws at the end."

Both teams spent time at the foul line in the closing minutes of play, but Oswego East went 6-for-12 and Oswego surged ahead with a 12-for-18 effort. At the same time, Oswego East lost a key scoring threat when Flowers received her fifth foul with 1:52 to play in the game.

A putback from Oswego East freshman Sydney Schultz (12 rebounds) created a 55-52 game with 44 seconds to play, and Carretto called a timeout.

Oswego East fouled junior Siarra O'Neill, who made one at the line, and Parsons closed out the game being fouled on a three-point shot, completing two of three with one second remaining.

"They got on a nice run to catch up. Erin (Sinnott) did a good job hitting some threes," Carretto said. "She got them back in the game.

"These are great games to play before the regional because it just shows that every possession - offensively or defensively - you have to play well. You're going to make mistakes, but when you need to get a rebound, it shows that you have to get it done. At the end of quarters, you have to finish them by scoring or by getting the rebound, a turnover. That was good to have those games this week (against Minooka and Oswego East). We had opportunities. It's not that we let one slip away. We played well against a good team."

Oswego Notes: Oswego received the No. 3 seed in the 21-team Joliet Central Sectional behind No. 1 Neuqua Valley and No. 2 Bolingbrook. The Panthers open postseason play on Feb. 19 at the Plainfield North Regional, taking on the winner of the Feb. 17 game between No. 14 Waubonsie Valley and No. 19 Plainfield North. No. 6 West Aurora and No. 11 Joliet Central play in the second semifinal game on Feb. 19, with the regional final taking place on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.

"This team is capable of making a nice run," Pohlmann said of the postseason seeds.

Last Saturday, Oswego picked up a 58-47 win at Yorkville. Sinnott finished with a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds, Wilder scored 14 points and Campbell chipped in with 10 as part of the Communities vs. Cancer fundraiser event.

Oswego East Notes: Oswego East is seeded eighth in the sectional complex and was placed in the Plainfield South Regional. The Wolves open play on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in the regional semifinal game against No. 9 Naperville Central. The winner will advance to the regional final on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.

No. 1 Neuqua Valley will play the winner of the first-round game between No. 16 Joliet West and No. 17 Plainfield South in the first semifinal game on Feb. 19.

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