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Kendall Dorsey of Oswego East, tries to find his way around the Peoria Central defense, on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at the East Aurora High School Holiday Tournament in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Oswego East’s boys basketball team hung around against defending Class 3A state champion Peoria Central in the third-place game of the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament Saturday, but the Wolves got some lessons on execution down the stretch as well.
The Wolves were at arm’s length the entire fourth quarter, but Peoria never surrendered the lead in the final few minutes and hung on for a 71-68 win.
“When it comes down to a close ballgame, you can’t just focus on the last minute,” Oswego East coach Ron Murphy said. “It’s different things that happen in different junctures of the game. We made it close at the end, but all of those things that add up throughout the game can kill you, and they did.”
Mike McAllister’s floater in the lane and CJ Vaughn’s 40-foot bank shot at the buzzer tied the game at 23-23 at the half for Oswego East (3-9), but the second half was played at a far different pace. Peoria (4-7) got off to a hot start in the third quarter. The Lions went on a 9-0 run to open a 34-25 lead and forced the Wolves to settle into comeback mode the rest of the game.
“They got going early and defensively, we weren’t as good,” Murphy said. “They did some things at halftime and we didn’t come out and meet them with the same intensity. There was a four-minute stretch to start the second half where they were up nine and those make a difference in a basketball game when it’s all said and done.”
Oswego East was up to the challenge. Five points from Vaughn, two free throws from Scooter Smith and a floater from McAllister gave the Wolves a 41-40 lead with 1:11 left in the third. Five quick points from Tyler Ross again gave Oswego East the lead, 50-49, with 5:40 left in the fourth, but the Lions took the lead back with a 10-4 run and never trailed again.
The Wolves never did go away, however. They cut the lead to one two different times in the final minutes and had the lead cut to two on two separate occasions in the final 25 seconds. They had the ball with eight seconds left, down by three points, but Kendall Dorsey’s three-point attempt in the waning seconds came up just short.
“It comes down to execution, and we didn’t execute that well this game,” Vaughn said. “Some of our players didn’t know what (defense) we were in. Now, that’s all of our fault, we didn’t talk enough.”
Vaughn capped off a solid tournament with a game-high 22 points to lead the Wolves. McAllister added 14 points, Dorsey scored 12 and Ross chipped in 11. Myles Boone paced the Lions with 20 points, Eriq Baird scored 16, Josh Augusta added 15 and Moses McConnell scored 13 points.
Oswego wound up going 2-2 in the tournament, after entering tournament play with a 1-7 record.
“Even though it’s a loss, there are a lot of positive things we can take out of this game,” Vaughn said.
“But there are still a lot of negatives we need to work on.”