Romeoville controlled the scoreboard through the opening three quarters of play until Oswego East senior Mitchell Glende took a step behind the three-point line to shift the momentum over to the Wolves in the closing minutes.
Glende's long-distance field goal put Oswego East ahead 43-40 with 2:43 left to play in Friday's Southwest Prairie Conference game, and the Wolves never trailed again in a 48-46 victory over the Spartans.
"I wasn't even thinking; if I see an opening I'm going to take the shot," Glende said. "I've been going through a slouch shooting-wise, but shooters shoot and that's what I've got to do to help my team."
Romeoville (3-4, 1-1 SPC) knocked in one of two free throws to close the gap before Oswego East's Stephon Harris rebounded a missed Romeoville basket and answered on the opposite end of the floor with a dunk to put the Wolves ahead 45-41. Romeoville's London Stamps (12 points) stepped up with a layup and a three-pointer to tie the game at 46, but Harris came through with another layup with nine seconds left.
Romeoville took possession under the Oswego East basket and put together one final play in the closing seconds, but could not convert an open look in the post before the buzzer.
"I thought we played well. They're big and quick and talented, and they out-played us in the fourth quarter," Romeoville head coach Marc Howard said.
Oswego East (3-4, 2-0 SPC) had a noticeable lineup change during the pregame introductions, with Harris and Trevor Ross benched for the first half of the game. The Wolves maintained defensive pressure on Stamps and Matthew Cappelletti (18 points) with Kaelub Newman and Glende coming up with early steals.
A 14-point effort behind halftime helped Oswego East to a 20-18 lead at intermission, but Cappelletti and Stamps scored a quick five for the Spartans after the break to put Romeoville ahead 23-22. With 5:23 to play in the third quarter, Harris and Ross entered the game, but Harris picked up a quick foul and was held to two baskets in the period.
"I definitely had confidence in our bench," Glende said. "We dealt with some adversity having Stephon and Trevor sitting out for the first half – they're two of our main offensive scorers – and we overcame that. I'm really proud of those two because they were positive on the bench, they were positive vibes for us and they came out in the second half and gave us a spark offensively. They were a key to the game. Guys like Harquel (Nicholson) who haven't played came in and gave us quality minutes to give us this win."
Harris went on to score six points in the final frame to finish with a team-high 10 points while Ross scored nine and Glende finished with eight.
Oswego East will take its undefeated conference record to Oswego (6-1, 2-0) next Friday for the crosstown game at 6:30 p.m. as part of a doubleheader following the varsity girls' game.
"I think we're doing a lot of good things right now," Oswego East head coach Steve Szymanski said. "We're right where we want to be going into the crosstown game and into our holiday tournament," Oswego East head coach Steve Szymanski said. "Next week is going to be an exciting game – packed gym and good atmosphere and then we get some nice competition from different teams at our holiday tournament, which will be good for us."