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Steelmen get best of Wolves, 59-38

JOLIET – Oswego East’s boys basketball team entered the 2017 portion of their schedule with a 4-0 record in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
But right away the Wolves had to hit the road for games against not only the two newcomers to the SPC, Joliet Central and Joliet West, but also the other early co-leaders in the league.
On Friday, East hung close to Central for a half, trailing 24-18 at the break. But the Steelmen outscored the Wolves 18-4 in the third quarter to help them capture a 59-38 victory, their tenth in a row.
The Wolves (10-4, 4-1) also played at Joliet West on Tuesday. The Tigers (14-1, 5-0) beat Plainfield North 60-45 on Friday to remain in a first-place tie in the conference with the Steelmen (13-1, 5-0).
“We didn’t handle their pressure very well, rebound the ball very well and turned it over a lot, and that’s not a good combination to win,” Wolves coach Steve Szymanski said.
“Central does a great job, they’re well-coached and they play great defense. One area that hurt us a lot, besides the turnovers and their pressure, was the rebounding. They got so many second- and third- chance opportunities. Hopefully we learn some things since it doesn’t get any easier because we play Joliet West on Tuesday.”
East pulled to within 26-20 early in the third quarter following a layup from Stephon Harris (eight points). But the Steelmen responded with three-pointers from Ryan King and Jose Grubbs (14 points, seven rebounds) that were sandwiched around a free throw by Jomarre McNair (nine points) to take a 33-20 lead just under three minutes into the new half.
After Harris got a slam dunk, it was all Central throughout the rest of that quarter. Grubbs hit a jumper, Don Joachim (12 points) made a layup, Grubbs tossed in another trey and Ryan Saunders added a rebound basket to give the Steelmen a 42-22 advantage with eight minutes to go.
"We knew that this was going to be a tough matchup for us," Steelmen coach Lawrence Thompson Jr. said. "They're a well-coached team that plays hard and is athletic and they can play the game and get after it. They have a couple of guys who can shoot, a nice little guard and a couple of big guys.
“I'm really happy that my kids got adjusted to the speed of the game. The second half was a good challenge and we really got into the game. They really pressed us in the half-court to execute but the kids reversed the ball enough that the ones with ability to get to the basket were able to after we started moving."
The Steelmen also received seven points from Jason Bingham and six points from Cameron Blackmon while the Wolves also got seven points from Andre Hughes, six points from Jordan Smith and five points apiece from Kijana Caldwell and Trent Taylor.
Central led 11-4 after one quarter and was still up 16-8 early in the second period before East tied it with an 8-0 run as Smith and Taylor hit three-pointers before and after a layup from Caldwell. However, the Steelmen scored eight of the final 10 points in the half as McNair hit a layup, Joachim added two more and Blackmon made two free throws.

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