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Oswego's Miles Simelton maneuvers past Oswego East's Tyler Ross at Oswego East High School in Oswego, Ill., on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Oswego East didn’t resort to stall tactics Tuesday in a solid effort to upset ninth-ranked Oswego, but the Wolves did slow the pace.
If the home team had shot the ball just a bit better, the outcome might have been different from a 42-38 victory for the high-flying Panthers, who have won seven straight. Of course, if Oswego had also shot better, the margin might have been wider.
“We knew we had to defend, particularly in the halfcourt,” said first-year Oswego East coach Ron Murphy, who is still searching for his first victory after his team yielded 14 first-half turnovers and 21 for the game.
“They’re gonna turn you over, they’re that good. And as much as you try, it’s hard to simulate their speed, their athleticism (in practice). It’s almost impossible.
“So we were able to grind it out defensively and force them into misses. There’s some opportunities we missed offensively, unfortunately. We were 7 of 17 from the (free throw) line. That will bite you. Those are things, in a close game, that will come back to haunt you.”
Stepping it up
The Wolves played a strong man-to-man but gave plenty of help to defenders trying to stop Oswego’s talented guard duo of Elliott McGaughy and Miles Simelton, who are adept at knocking down jumpers, scoring off the drive or dishing to open teammates for open looks. At least on most nights.
Asked what made East’s defense so effective, Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said he’d have to study the game film but did note the focus on his guard tandem.
“They collapsed on us tonight. They were pinching and squeezing the drive and we just didn’t have a lot of other guys put the ball where it belonged,” he said. “The stats speak for themselves, too. One-for-13 from beyond the arc.”
Big men who pass
Assists — setting up a teammate for a basket with a good pass — aren’t only for the little guys.
On successive possessions in last week’s Aurora Central win over Aurora Christian, the Chargers’ 6-foot-7 post Sean Anger came out to the free throw line to take a pass, turn and feed a cutting teammate for easy layups as ACC took control with a decisive third-quarter run.
“He’s a great passer,” ACC coach Nate Drye said. “He looks weird because he’s all leaning to the side and looks like he’s about to fall over but he whips the ball. He’s got nice timing on it. He’s a real good angle passer for us. He’s done a nice job of that.”
He’s not alone.
A quick check of the area leaders shows that Newark big man (6-4) Brett Anderson is averaging a team-high 3.3 assists. And Oswego’s 6-4 Jack Kwiatkowski, who was on the receiving end of so many passes on the football field during his prep career as a wide receiver, is averaging 3.8 assists.
Former East Aurora standout Ryan Boatright and his University of Connecticut teammates are honoring the victims of last Friday’s shooting at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School by wearing a patch on their uniforms with the letters “SH” on it.
During Monday’s 84-50 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, the sophomore guard also had the letters written on his left cheek.
Boatright, who has younger sisters who are 10 and 8, said, “I can only imagine what those families are going through. My prayers go out to the families.”
Also playing out east, for Holy Cross, is sophomore Kaneland graduate Dave Dudzinski. The 6-9 forward erupted for a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds this week in a win over San Francisco.