Taking command : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Second quarter defense puts Oswego in control over Plainfield East |
|by Kristin Sharp|
Although the race has just begun for the Southwest Prairie Conference championship, the Oswego boys' basketball team is taking its latest victory to heart.
The Panthers defeated Plainfield East 72-54 last Friday in front of a large home crowd, handing the defending SPC champions their first loss since the 2010-11 season.
"We're two games in. It's a marathon, not a sprint, but it counts in the standings," Oswego head coach Kevin Schnable said. "It's two out of the 14, and we talked about how they (Plainfield East) has something that we don't. ... We talked a lot about our program as a whole to establish that winning mindset. We talked about how they won last year, and they not only won, but they won at the buzzer."
The Bengals (2-4) started the season 1-0 in league play, but fell to 1-1 with last Friday's loss, while the Panthers improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in league play.
"This core group of kids has been around for awhile and they're settling into their roles," Schnable said. "On the offensive end, we're going to play to our skills. On the defensive end, there's no such thing as role player. They're all expected to do their job. I like how we guarded the last three quarters and rebounded. I felt like we took over the pace of the game. Our guys are in great shape."
Plainfield East kept pace with Oswego through the first eight minutes of play thanks in part to a seven-point effort by Bengal sophomore Aaron Jordan (15 points), but the Panther defense tightened up in the second quarter and allowed just nine points.
In the meantime, Oswego senior Danny Mangers came off the bench and scored 12 of his 15 points in the second quarter, hitting a pair of three-pointers to give the Panthers a much-needed spark.
"We finally made a commitment that he's a better player coming off the bench," Schnable said. "He played very relaxed and very confident. He had 15 at the half. We closed the half on a 14-0 run. I was more excited about the fact that we held them to nine second-quarter points. Give credit to coach (Branden Adkins) and his young team. They played hard, and so did we. It was a hard-fought game all around."
We were pleased we had balanced scoring, 21 assists and we won the battle of the boards."
Mangers hit his first long-range shot with 3:23 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 13 points. Senior Miles Simelton (22 points) scored the last four points of the quarter, but Plainfield East held a slim 19-18 lead to start the second quarter.
"We need to start out better," Simelton said. "We need to come out with more intensity."
Oswego's first lead of the night came when Simelton found senior Devon Zych in the paint for a 22-21 Panther edge, but Plainfield East junior Nick Novak (11 points) answered with a three-pointer to give the Bengals the lead once again.
Mangers' field goal combined with an offensive putback just seven seconds later tied the game at 26 points, and with 2:18 on the clock, senior Jack Kwiatkowski stepped back behind the arc and nailed a three-pointer for a 31-28 score. Oswego would never trail again, building a 14-0 run going into intermission.
Mangers' second triple with 1:51 to play in the first half pushed Oswego ahead, 34-28, and senior Josh Oros took his first charge of the night to help stop a driving layup by Plainfield East senior Kevin Fervil.
"We had to shut them down. We started out slow and we needed a spurt. We got a big one, and that helped," Mangers.
Once again, Mangers was good for three more points on an assisted basket by senior Elliot McGaughy and a 10-point Oswego lead in the closing minute of the half.
"It's all my teammates," Mangers said. "I can't shoot the ball without them giving it to me and they find me every time where I'm at. I just shoot the ball and hopefully it drops."
McGaughy (15 points) capped off the half with a bucket assisted by Kwiatkowski and the Panthers went into the locker room with a 40-28 lead.
Oswego only continued to expand its lead throughout the second half. McGaughy's next three-pointer was assisted by senior Darion Reddick for a 45-32 lead, and Simelton stepped behind the arc to pour in six points to give the Panthers a 51-35 lead with 5:00 to play in the third quarter.
"(Simelton) played a great floor game. Being around as long as he has and being as smart as he is, he's going to draw a lot of defensive attention. We have Danny Mangers spotting up and we have multiple guys who can step up. We're pleased where we're at, and we'll continue to get better."
Oros came up big late in the third quarter with a blocked shot before taking a charge under the Plainfield East basket, and followed with a layup for a 53-39 lead. The Panthers held a sizeable 59-44 lead to start the fourth quarter, and the Bengals made only three field goals before the final horn.
"They are the conference champions until we win it this year," Simelton said. "We definitely wanted to come out here and send a message to them. Last year they beat us on their own court pretty bad and we wanted to come out here and get a win."
On the night, Oswego sank nine three-pointers.
"We have so many guys on this team who can shoot," Mangers said. "It's amazing. We just try to spread it out."
Reddick led the Panthers on the boards with seven while Kwiatkowski pulled in six rebounds and finished with a team-best nine assists.
Oswego was scheduled to visit Downers Grove South on Tuesday, but results were unavailable at press time. The Panthers will take the weekend off from their schedule before traveling to Oswego East next Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game with the Wolves as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. with the varsity girls' teams.
"It doesn't get any easier," Schnable said. "Downers South is very established and we expect it to be a dog fight. We're going to get Oswego East's shot in the rivalry game, and the Proviso West tournament speaks for itself."
The Oswego East contest is the Panthers' final game before entering the Proviso West Holiday Tournament on Dec. 22. The Panthers will play the first game in the 32-team tournament, playing Lincoln Park at 9 a.m. For complete information on the tournament, visit www.pwhoops.com.
"Coach is just telling us to be confident in our senior leadership," Simelton said. "It's been a good run so far."