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Oswego East CJ Vaughan goes up for a layup against Belvidere North High School at The East Aurora High School Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28, 2012 in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Entering the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament, Oswego East’s boys basketball team was having a rough go of it this season, coming into the tournament with a 1-7 record.
After dropping the tournament opener against Kentucky powerhouse Pleasure Ridge Park, however, the Wolves have recovered.
A 12-point win over host East Aurora Thursday and a convincing 63-46 win over Belvidere North Friday have the Wolves in Saturday’s 6:15 p.m. third-place game against defending Class 3A state champion Peoria Central.
“I’m happy with our effort the last couple days,” Oswego East coach Ron Murphy said. “Our execution still needs to get better, we realize that, but I think we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit, finding some confidence. We’re getting there.”
In a mostly empty gym, Oswego East (3-8) made its own energy early on. The Wolves jumped out to an 11-2 lead out of the gates and held a 19-6 lead after one quarter. After Belvidere North (3-8) scored the first five points of the second quarter, Oswego East closed the half with a flourish. A 17-5 closing run helped the Wolves take a commanding 36-16 lead into the half.
It was the Wolves’ pressure defense that did the trick. The Blue Thunder turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and shot only 7-of-21 from the field as Oswego East pulled away.
“We decided we wanted to speed this game up and we were able to do that early tonight,” Murphy said. “That carried us into the second half.”
The only negative that Murphy could find was the fact that Belvidere North outscored the Wolves 30-27 in the second half, even cutting the lead to 51-41 with 3:56 left thanks to a 10-0 run.
“We had a little lull in the third quarter where we didn’t pressure or defend as well and almost put them back in the basketball game,” Murphy said. “They’re a team that shoots the basketball well and are capable of making runs like that.”
Seniors Kendall Dorsey, Scooter Smith and CJ Vaughn each scored 12 points to lead Oswego East. Tyler Ross added 11 points. Hunter Blake led all scorers for Belvidere North with 13 points.
Oswego East now prepares for a Peoria team coming off of a state championship, but the Lions are only 3-7 this season.
“Rough start (to the season), but a couple of wins gives us a lot of confidence,” Vaughn said. “Going into tomorrow’s game, we’re going to be real hyped, try to come out with the same urgency we came out with today.”