Boys Basketball: Oswego wraps up Southwest Prairie title
By Bob Reynolds For Sun-Times Media February 8, 2013 11:28PM
Updated: February 8, 2013 11:39PM
Elliott McGaughy may have had a quiet night offensively. But the senior Oswego guard was involved in one of the game’s biggest defensive plays against conference rival Minooka.
At Oswego’s Hall of Fame Night, there were plenty of contributors to Oswego’s 56-51 victory that sewed up the Southwest Prairie Conference championship for the Panthers.
Miles Simelton led Oswego (24-2 overall, 12-0 SPC) to its 14th straight victory with 18 points. But whereas guards Simelton and McGaughy normally lead their team to easy triumphs, nothing came easily against the Indians.
“They made us not play very well, so give credit to Minooka,” said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable.
Minooka (15-12 overall, 6-6 conference) whittled away at 11-point leads that the Panthers owned in both the second and the third quarters.
A 7-1 surge early in the fourth quarter had the Indians trailing 44-41, with the ball. But McGaughy and Zach West put a trap on a Minooka player near the time line. McGaughy came away with the ball and fed West for a fast break layup. And West hit his third 3-pointer two possessions later for a 49-41 lead.
Still, the Indians had one more run, and it came in the form of seven straight points by freshman Joseph Butler (team-high 13 points) that brought Minooka within 51-48. And after two missed free throws by the Panthers, the Indians called timeout to discuss strategy with 31 seconds left. But Neal Tyrell lost his footing as he tried to drive, and Simelton made one free throw. Another unforced error, stepping over the end line after the free throw, allowed the Panthers to finally exhale after Simelton scored on a Jamaal Richardson inbounds pass.
“Our guys continued to fight the whole game,” said Minooka coach Scott Tanaka. “We just had trouble taking care of the ball at the end, but we’re a young team.”
West, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, was big for Oswego with 15 points. His 10 points, along with Simelton’s 12, allowed the Panthers to grab a 30-22 halftime lead.
“A big difference between this year and last year is that we’re playing together, guarding a lot harder,” said Schnable. “The egos are checked at the door with this team. I’m proud to be a small part of such a special season. And Zach West did not play like a sophomore tonight.”
As for Simelton, he was superb in a two-minute stretch of the second period. He knocked down a corner trey, took a lob from McGaughy and dunked it home in spectacular fashion, and hit another 3-pointer.
“It was a grinder, but we fought through it and we’re happy to get the conference championship,” said Simelton. “The coaches told us that the playoffs are not going to be like some of the games we’ve had, so it was good to get a tough one under our belt.”
McGaughy, Oswego’s all-time leading scorer, scored 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field. But he pulled down seven rebounds and was active defensively against Minooka’s quick guards.