Oswego warmed up in the second half but lost steam in the final minutes en route to a 65-59 overtime defeat to Timothy Christian on Thursday afternoon in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York.
With it, the Panthers (3-10, 2-2 Suburban Prairie Conference) closed out their tournament run with three loss in four games, falling to St. Patrick 79-55 in the opener, beating Riverside-Brookfield 80-73 on Dec. 27, and then dropping a 55-42 contest to Lake Forest on Dec. 28.
Wins have been hard to accumulate for Oswego all season, as it limped into the holidays after back-to-back SPC losses and three in their previous four overall - a trend that continued into the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
“It’s been a pattern for most of the season, and until we overcome that, we’re going to keep losing games by four, five, six points like we have,” Oswego head coach Matt Borrowman said. “We’re in every game, but we go through two or three minutes where we’re just not a good basketball team. When we do that, we’re just not going to win basketball games.
“We’re playing really good teams, and (Thursday’s) game, we should have had, but we couldn’t close it out. I’m sure there are things that I could have done differently, but our guys have got to start learning from their mistakes, and once we do that, we’ll be okay.”
After trading baskets with Timothy Christian throughout much of the first half, Oswego eventually pulled ahead - though not by much - 35-33 at halftime.
Senior point guard Jaylen Jones led the way with 12 of his game-high 24 points in that span, and he kept the Panthers hot as he sank another 3-pointer - one of his six overall - to open an 8-0 run in the first 2:12 of the third. By then, they were commanding a 43-33 lead.
Oswego stayed one step ahead of Timothy Christian as the quarter wound down, holding a 48-43 advantage when the buzzer sounded.
But as the Panthers cooled in the fourth, the Trojans surged and soon cut the lead to 51-48. Then, with 59 seconds left in regulation, guard Jimmy Allen (16 points) drained a three-pointer to tie the game.
Oswego failed to use its ensuing possession to put the game away, sending things to overtime.
The teams were tied after exchanging layups to open the extra quarter, but Timothy Christian broke away, regained the lead, and never looked back as it notched the victory.
“We’re just not learning from our mistakes right now - we’re playing great in stretches, but unfortunately, our moments of mistake basketball outweigh those good, and we’re just not going to win games until we fix that,” Borrowman said.
Jones led all players offensively and had five assists to boot, and he was joined by freshman guard Jack Kahoun on the score sheet with 14 points, but these two bright spots were the only ones that the Panthers could find on this day.
“We want to (look at this as a learning moment), but it’s been a recurring theme for most of the season,” Borrowman said. “We’re 13 games in, and at some point it’s got to start clicking.
“We could easily have six of seven wins, but we’re not getting it done. We’re looking forward to kids getting rest and bouncing back in 2017 and seeing if we can turn it around.”
Oswego resumes its schedule in the new year, when it opens with two SPC home matchups, the first Jan. 6 versus Minooka and Jan. 13 against Plainfield North.