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Oswego's Amri Wilder (22) is fouled by Plainfield Central's Bailee McDaniel (50) at Oswego High School in Oswego, Ill., on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Over the extended holiday break, Oswego girls basketball coach Chad Pohlmann saw what he had been waiting to see out of sophomore guard Amri Wilder.
“She had the best two weeks of practice that she’s ever had,” Pohlmann said. “I mean, she was scoring. She just played great in practice. And we played last Tuesday and Friday, and I’m going, Amri, let’s go, you have to score the ball.”
At the end of the first quarter in Tuesday’s 61-36 Southwest Prairie Conference win over Plainfield Central, Wilder decided to pick up her aggressiveness on the offensive end. She had two points before she drilled a three-pointer at the end of the first. By the time the game was over, she had scored a game-high 22 points with sophomore sharpshooter Siarra O’Neill out due to a concussion.
“The past few games, everybody has been telling me to attack and shoot,” Wilder said. “I decided to do it finally, and it worked. It boosts my confidence a lot. I get down on myself easily, so this helps me.”
With O’Neill out (Pohlmann said he hopes to have her back Friday) and Jordan Campbell struggling with foul trouble all night, the Panthers (9-8 overall, 4-4 SPC) needed Wilder’s offensive production even more.
Plainfield Central (2-15, 0-9) started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 33-20, but Wilder got the Panthers back on track. She scored eight points in a 15-0 run to end the quarter that blew the game open, giving Oswego a 48-20 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“I thought we did a decent job after that little lull in the first quarter,” Pohlmann said. “We kind of opened it up.”
Kelsey Nelson scored 13 points for Oswego, while Rebecca Anderson, starting in place of O’Neill, scored 10.
The Panthers can finally settle into more of a routine the rest of the season after a choppy schedule the past few weeks. Oswego had an early holiday tournament, then two weeks off for the holidays. When they returned to the court last week, the Panthers were dealing with final exams and a different schedule. Now, they will be able to settle in for the stretch run.
“The routine will definitely help,” Pohlmann said. “I’m hoping that helps us get on a roll. We’re certainly capable of playing some pretty good basketball. The girls have to continue to come in and compete and battle. We’re such a young team still. Every single game, every single situation will continue to be a learning experience for us.”