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Oswego’s boys basketball team doesn’t spend a lot of time in practice playing without star senior point guard Miles Simelton.
So when Simelton picked up his third foul with 6:56 left in the second quarter and the No. 9 Panthers down by two points to Plainfield South, the Panthers had to adjust on the fly.
As it turned out, Oswego wound up taking the game over with Simelton sitting on the bench.
The Panthers outscored Plainfield South 23-4 the rest of the second quarter and cruised to a 69-39 Southwest Prairie Conference win.
“I’ll be honest, and maybe this is on me as a coach, but we don’t practice a lot without Miles, you know what I mean?,” Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said. “He’s not off to the side. He’s our point guard. That’s on our kids. I felt like our guys did a good job. The adjustment they all had to make, they all had to shift positions, and we really responded.”
Jamaal Richardson took over the point guard duties, and fellow seniors Jack Kwiatkowski and Elliot McGaughy took the game over. Kwiatkowski scored 10 of his season-high 14 points in the second and McGaughy played an excellent floor game capped by a pair of three-pointers at the end of the half to give Oswego (18-2, 7-0) a 40-23 lead at the break.
“I think it’s our senior maturity, guys stepping up,” Kwiatkowski said. “I thought Jamaal did a great job running the point. Our defense really stepped up. It starts with defense and everybody doing their jobs. We all know each other’s roles and how we fit in pretty well; it’s just team basketball out there.”
McGaughy led the way for Oswego with 18 points and seven rebounds. Simelton scored 13. Plainfield South (5-13, 3-6) was led by James Hill’s nine points.
Oswego honored Schnable’s late mother, Cathy, a fervent supporter of Oswego athletics, before the game. She passed away in June due to a heart ailment, and the school dedicated a plaque in her honor. The game also served as a fund raiser for the American Heart Association.
“The team and the parents were a source of strength for me over the summer when all of this happened,” Schnable said. “I told them before the game that I was coaching for her tonight, but I didn’t ask them to play for her. I asked them to play with heart. That’s how I connected it in. I thought our guys did just that.”
The players were close with Cathy Schnable as well, especially Kwiatkowski, who has been her neighbor all his life.
“I’ve grown up with her,” Kwiatkowski said. “It meant a lot for everyone out there. I almost teared up watching the coaches tear up a little bit. There were definitely emotions. But as much as you want to play for her, you have to control your emotions. It was definitely for her tonight.”