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Oswego East can't contain Lemont's Wisz : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego East can't contain Lemont's Wisz
Indian guard scores 25 in regional victory, Wolves finish at 9-18

by Laura M. Medina


The first round of the Class 4A Lemont Regional boys' basketball bracket could not have been any closer for No. 17 Oswego East and the 16th-seeded home team.
A whistle, a turnover, a perfectly-executed play, or a combination of them all could have changed the momentum at any point, but in the end, it was the Wolves at the losing end of a 60-56 result against Lemont on Monday night.
Oswego East (9-18) concluded its season on a six-game slide, while Lemont advanced to play top-seeded Benet (20-8) on Tuesday. The Redwings prevailed 81-36 to send Benet into Friday's regional final against Waubonsie Valley.
Throughout much of the game, there was no clear indicator on which team would emerge victoriously. At the end of the first quarter, the Indians led by a slim 16-15 margin, and both teams were tied at 30 by halftime.
"I thought we were pretty well prepared," first-year Wolves head coach Steve Szymanski said. "We knew what they were going to do and that they were going to be in that zone for most of the game, so we did a pretty decent job.
"We came out slow in the first half, but it picked up, and our effort defensively was something that we had to control. (Guard Mike Wisz, who led all scorers with 27 points) was a good player, and we knew he was a go-to guy. We gave him a little space out there, and he took advantage of it."
When the third quarter concluded, Lemont held a meager 46-43 advantage and expanded it on center Luis Marquez's drive in the first 19 seconds of the fourth. Oswego East, though, came roaring back in the ensuing five minutes with a 9-1 run, led by sophomore forward Demetrius Ewing's back-to-back baskets and junior forward Jalen Williams' three points.
Behind that 52-49 lead at the 2:40 mark, it appeared that the Wolves were in the driver's seat for the final stretch, but the resurgent Indians capitalized on some timely offensive opportunities, including the back end of a pair of free throws and a game-tying basket with about two minutes left.
Oswego East jumped ahead again on the next possession on junior forward Houston McCullum's layup, but Lemont was persistent and physical in the paint, as Marquez's put-back drew a foul that allowed him to complete a three-point play with 1:09 remaining for the 55-54 lead.
"We couldn't get a stop, and then, they had a couple second-chance points," Szymanski said. "We couldn't secure rebounds, and then, a couple missed free throws were big; they would have given us a four-, five-point lead. That's kind of what we talked about in the locker room, finishing those little things."
It was the Wolves who were forced to foul as time wound down, and the Indians responded by draining three of four attempts from the line with 12.5 seconds to go.
Senior forward Devin Flowers (nine points) moved Oswego East to within a basket about six seconds later, but Lemont put the game away with two additional baskets from the stripe for the eventual win.
"I thought we played hard, thought we competed, but we've had a lot of adversity this year, and that was our 15th different starting lineup, and that's tough," Szymanski said. "There hasn't been that consistency, and consistency is what's going to make you better all season. It's the difference between winning and losing.
"I credit the kids that are out there; they played hard, and you can always control your effort. I'm proud of the way they finished off that game. I wish the ball would have rolled a few different ways there, but that's basketball."
McCullum (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Ewing (13, six rebounds) led the Wolves on the score sheet, while senior guard Mike McAllister contributed eight points, three assists, and two steals for the squad, which Szymanski hopes is already looking forward to next season.
"We're going to be small," he said. "Houston's our only true post guy returning, but he's a nice guy to have back, and I'm excited for it. Each of our levels did well, and our sophomore group won 19 games, so it's going to be nice to have a team where we can build and continue to get better.
"Ewing is stepping up for us as a leader, and as a sophomore, for him to do that is a positive heading into the offseason. The next season started (Tuesday), and hopefully, they're doing the things they need to do to have some more success, getting their priorities straight."

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