Basket for basket, the Oswego East Holiday Classic saved its best matchup for last, as the tournament concluded with an excitingly close game between the host Wolves and Edwardsville on Friday afternoon.
After nine lead changes, five ties and an overtime session, the Tigers remained undefeated on the season and earned a 49-47 victory to cap the four-day competition.
“We just offensively got stuck a little bit in the fourth quarter, where we didn’t get good looks and were forcing some things,” Wolves head coach Abe Carretto said. “We used up a lot of time, and that was fine because we still had the ball, but when you hold it that long, you want to get a good shot, and I don’t think we were really doing that at those moments.”
Holding a slim 26-24 advantage at the half, Oswego East (12-3, 3-0 Suburban Prairie Conference) extended its lead to 35-28 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Edwardsville, though, had different plans, stringing together an 11-2 run that stretched into the fourth. In that span, Myriah Noodle-Haywood and Rachel Pranger led the Tigers with four points apiece, while Jesinde Thomas’ basket was the Wolves’ lone score.
“We had the lead, and then, I’m not sure if they thought they could chill out a little bit, but they just weren’t as aggressive pushing the ball,” Carretto said. “We were hesitating a little too long on those passes; we needed to get more movement or more options on the offense.”
Junior guard-forward Amaya Johns (team-best 13 points) tied things up at 39 soon after, and Oswego East scooped up a loose ball with 1.8 seconds remaining, but it couldn’t set up a final shot and sent the game to overtime.
There, Makenzie Silvey scored seven of her game-high 19 points to lead Edwardsville to the win. Senior forward-guard Ty Battle had four points for Oswego East in the overtime.
“That’s what we were putting on the scouting report – that you have to know where [Silvey] is, because not only is she a good shooter, but she just catches it and shoots it so quickly,” Carretto said. “I think we did a good job of getting to her, but we lost her in that overtime twice.”
Silvey, the most valuable player, was joined by Pranger (10 points, five rebounds) and Kate Martin (five points, nine rebounds, four blocks) on the all-tournament team. Oswego East was represented by Thomas (seven points), Battle (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals), and senior forward-center Sydney Schultz (four points, six rebounds).
While Edwardsville improved to 13-0, Oswego East dropped another tight game. In fact, a total of five points separates it from an unbeaten slate, as a 47-45 loss to Benet on Nov. 26 and a 45-44 defeat to Homewood-Flossmoor on Dec. 10 coupled with Friday’s result have hampered an otherwise solid start to the year.
Oswego East has a few days to recharge before resuming its schedule and SPC play with two games next week, visiting Plainfield South on Tuesday (results not available by press time) and hosting Joliet Central on Friday.
Carretto is hoping 2017 brings a renewed outlook for fixing some of his team’s miscues.
“I look at it as that we just need to finish some things on the defensive end,” he said. “Clearly, we can score, and we can even get steals late in the end of the game."
“If we can get over that hump, then the confidence goes up a bit more. We’re confident anyway, but we just need to get that victory we need against those top teams in the state,” Carretto said.