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Oswego's Rebecca Anderson is fouled by Rosary's Mary Wentworth during tournament action on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

Even though Oswego sophomore Siarra O’Neill has been struggling with her shot lately, Panthers coach Chad Pohlmann has continued to tell her to keep shooting.

“I told her at practice the other day that it’s just a matter of time,” Pohlmann said. “Stay with it and you’re going to start knocking them down. She’s going to make six or seven (three-pointers) in a game sometime, I’m telling you.”

She didn’t quite reach that plateau in Tuesday’s 39-23 win over Rosary at the Oswego Holiday Classic, but it was her hot shooting in the opening minutes that set the tone for the win.

She popped three three-pointers in the opening couple of minutes to help stake the Panthers to an 11-2 lead out of the gates. She wound up scoring a game-high 14 points as Oswego used that opening surge to hold off the Royals.

“It felt really good,” O’Neill said. “When you’re out there and they don’t fall you get frustrated, but you just have to stay with it and keep shooting. I was shooting and they were going in.”

The Panthers (7-4) pushed the lead to 20-7 after one quarter, with O’Neill scoring 11 points overall. Oswego led by as many as 22 points (33-11) in the second quarter before heading into the break leading 33-14.

“I really liked our intensity to start the game,” Pohlmann said. “We played well together. We moved the ball, we found people and our defense was just awesome.”

That lead wound up standing despite the fact the Panthers scored only six points in the second half. With four sophomore starters and only one senior on the roster, that’s yet another lesson that Pohlmann’s squad will learn this season. Fortunately for the Panthers, they allowed only nine points to Rosary (5-8) in the second half.

“The second half was unacceptable,” Pohlmann said. “That’s something with a young team that they have to go through. Against a good team, that’s a different outcome probably. That’s a lesson that they have to take and reflect on.”

Rosary played much more solid defense in the second half, but the Royals couldn’t convert that defense into points. After getting buried in the opening minutes, they were never able to climb back into the game.

“Our goal in the second half was to win the half,” Rosary coach Jessie Wilcox said. “When you’re down by that much, you have to start small. But I’m not happy with the second half either. Yeah, they only scored six points, but what did we score, nine? We really need to start playing together and we need to find a leader on this team that is going to pull everyone together.”

Through the opening three days of the tournament, the top four seeds — Batavia, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley and Oswego — have held serve and have each gone 2-0. Batavia faces Neuqua tonight at 7 p.m. and Oswego takes on Naperville Central Thursday to determine who plays in Saturday’s tournament championship.

Naperville Central beat Larkin, 75-23, in Tuesday’s other game.

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