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Oswego’s basketball team is composed of many known players. Guards Miles Simelton and Elliott McGaughy are electric scorers. Darion Reddick has emerged as a consistent option.
Now welcome Zach West to the mix.
After missing two months following an ankle injury suffered in the state football playoffs, the sophomore forward revealed another potent shooter for the Panthers.
West drilled three three-pointers in the second half that helped the No. 9 Panthers glide past No. 20 Stevenson 72-66 in the third-place game of the Proviso West Holiday tournament Monday in Hillside.
“It’s amazing that he’s even out there because he hasn’t had one practice yet,” Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said.
West drilled two three-pointers in that fourth quarter that helped the Panthers (12-2) turn a narrow one-point lead to a comfortable 10-point advantage. His third and final three-pointer, with 3:11 remaining, gave the Panthers a seven-point (56-49) cushion.
He finished with 10 points.
West received his medical clearance and played his first game Wednesday against New Trier. “It was pretty tough at times out there because I don’t really know the plays,” he admitted, “and some of the guys had to show me where to be on the floor. But this is a great group of guys to be playing with.”
Simelton’s layup at the third quarter buzzer marked the sixth and final lead change as Oswego grabbed the 45-44 advantage entering the fourth quarter. West nailed a three-pointer from the left baseline on the opening possession of the fourth quarter to provide some necessary breathing space for Panthers.
Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose acknowledged West’s impact on the game. “We left him open too many times,” Ambrose said. “We let their scorers score too much.”
Simelton scored 28 points and added five assists and four steals for the Panthers. He shot 12-for-12 at the free-throw line, which helped Oswego withstand several Stevenson fourth-quarter runs. McGaughy contributed 21 points and five rebounds in support.
Oswego also benefitted from the foul trouble that plagued Stevenson star sophomore guard Jalen Brunson. He scored 18 points and added five rebounds, though the Panthers harassed him into nine turnovers. Brunson picked up his second charging foul with 6:55 to play in the second quarter and sat much of the rest of the first half. Andrew Stampel scored 20 points to lead the Patriots (10-4). The team’s other star sophomore, Connor Cashaw, posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Oswego opened a lot of eyes after they beat Proviso East in its own Thanksgiving tournament. The Panthers’ strong showing in one of the state’s top holiday tournaments against the expanded 32-team format solified their status as a team to watch for the second half.
“I knew we were going to be good, but we’ve really jelled and come together very quickly,” Simelton said. “We had some good wins before the tournament, but I think we really put ourselves on the radar with how we played.
“We made a statement in this tournament.”