Boys basketball: Oswego expects Oswego East’s best shot
By Rick ARmstrong firstname.lastname@example.org December 17, 2012 5:22PM
Oswego High School's Miles Simelton goes up for a dunk against Metea High School on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at Oswego High School in Oswego IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 16, 2013 2:29AM
While the Oswego-Oswego East basketball rivalry may lack longevity, it takes a backseat to few when it comes to intensity.
That’s fueled, no doubt, by the packed houses that accompany the games when the crosstown rivals meet twice a season in Southwest Prairie Conference play — twice they’ve played three times, thanks to tournament pairings.
Their matchups date just to 2005, but the early success of the fledgling Oswego East program also likely served to stoke the rivalry fires. The team from the new school won five of the first seven meetings, but Oswego has won seven of the last nine and holds a 9-7 series edge.
The Panthers, ranked 12th in the Sun-Times Super 25, carry a 6-1 record (2-0 SPC) to Tuesday’s game at Oswego East against a Wolves’ team that is winless in six tries, two in conference play.
“It’s a rivalry game, they’re always gonna give us their best shot,” said Oswego guard Miles Simelton, who pairs with fellow senior Elliot McGaughy to give the Panthers a potent 1-2 punch in the backcourt.
“Coach (Kevin Schnable) has been telling us since we’re ranked now, we’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. We’ve gotta come out there every game with intensity because no one’s gonna roll over on us. We’ve gotta come out there and fight for everything.”
An overtime win against last year’s Class 4A runner-up, Proviso East, in the season-opening Hoops For Healing Tournament was a big boost for Oswego.
“A great win,” said Simelton. “Our team played really well together. We were hitting all our shots and we stayed poised at the end. When we went into overtime, we kept our composure and pulled it out.”
This will be East coach Ron Murphy’s first time directing the Wolves in the rivalry game, but he’s been there for the rest as an assistant to former coach Jason Buckley. The teams will meet again Feb. 2 at Oswego.
The Wolves haven’t played in 11 days since dropping a 68-66 nailbiter on Dec. 7 to Plainfield North.
“It’s a good thing in that we’ve been able to practice and it gives us an opportunity to correct some of our deficiencies,” Murphy said of the layoff. “Despite the record, we’re getting better. We’ve played some very good basketball teams early on. The benefit is that we’ve been able to find out a lot about ourselves real quick.”
Senior guard and three-year varsity player C.J. Vaughan, who put up 32 points last time out, leads the Wolves but after him there’s not a lot of varsity experience on the team. Senior forward Kendall Dorsey did have 17 in the Plainfield North loss.
“We’ve got some kids who are seniors who didn’t see a lot of time on the court, even a year ago,” said Murphy. “Having been in difficult situations even for these six games now, will benefit them. They also understand now how important it is to simulate game speed even in practice.
“C.J. was feeling a lot of pressure early on to score the basketball. The night he scored 32, though, it wasn’t like he forced a lot and that was important. When he gets going, he’s a ton. And it’s not like he put up a lot of shots and made only 25 percent, he was over 50 percent. He’s capable of nights like that but we’ve tried to take the pressure off him and ran some other looks.”
With Simelton and McGaughy, Murphy knows his team will be challenged.
“Their guard play is exceptional,” he said. “Those two kids are tough to keep in front of you (on defense). They really get after it. Problem is, there other parts are good as well.
“(Reserves Darion) Reddick and (Danny) Mangers have stepped up for them and (starters Jack) Kwiatkowski, (Jamaal) Richardson and (Josh) Oros know their roles and play them well.
You worry about (Simelton and McGaughy) to a degree, but them as a whole is pretty good. You can’t leave those other kids alone to focus on those two.”
Other than slow starts in the past four games, Schnable has been pleased with his team’s effort and appreciates the work of all his players.
“That’s the fun thing about this team, you’ve got your staples (like Simelton and McGaughy). After that, you’ve got guys like Jack (Kwiatkowski), Jamaal (Richardson) and Josh (Oros) who are ultimate warriors at the defensive end and play their roles when we have the ball.
“I thought Jack and Josh did an outstanding job of controlling the boards and protecting the paint (in last week’s nonconference win at Downers Grove South). That type of stuff doesn’t show up in the scorebook or stat sheet, but they were body banging down low.”