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Boys Basketball: Eric Cannon, Waubonsie Valley blast past Wolves

Warriors use big third quarter to beat Oswego East 67-61

Oswego East's Kamron Battle takes a shot during a game against St. Rita at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic on Thursday, Dec. 27.
Oswego East's Kamron Battle takes a shot during a game against St. Rita at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic on Thursday, Dec. 27.

AURORA – Eric Cannon probably couldn't have predicted this scene in his early days at Waubonsie Valley.

Cannon, a 6-foot senior guard, was there for the lean years.

He was a varsity starter as a freshman on a 5-22 team. The next year, head coach Jason Mead's first, the Warriors went 8-19.

Cannon stuck with it.

So Saturday night, with a full house, Comcast TV in the building, and a talented opponent in Oswego East, was quite a sight.

"We are closing to [totaling the last three years' win total] in one season alone. It's definitely been a big jump," said Cannon, a Rochester recruit. "I'm just enjoying the ride."

He sure enjoyed this one.

Cannon scored 13 of his 19 points in the decisive third quarter, and host Waubonsie Valley went on to beat Oswego East 67-61 in a matchup of teams who could both be top four seeds in the upcoming East Aurora Sectional.

Afterward, the Waubonsie student section stormed the court. Marcus Skeete, who also scored 19 points for Waubonsie (22-3), joined in the dancing on the court. The Warriors reached 22 wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season, and swept games with Oswego and Oswego East this week.

Despite its gaudy record, this was undoubtedly Waubonsie's signature win.

"We have a nice record, but it was nice to get a win over a team that was highly looked upon," Cannon said. "They're a really talented team, a couple really nice players. It was good to see our team respond in a situation like that."

Ray J Dennis scored 26 points, 14 coming during a furious fourth-quarter rally, and Sam Schultz had 14 points and six rebounds for Oswego East (19-7).

The Wolves led 27-24 at halftime, but quickly saw things fall apart.

Cannon hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around a Skeete three for a 33-27 lead, and it snowballed from there. Waubonsie hit 5-of-7 3s in the 23-point quarter, taking a 47-37 lead into the fourth.

"I thought we had some good momentum going into halftime, up by three, were stringing together some stops," Wolves coach Ryan Velasquez, "but came out of halftime a little different story. The wheels came off."

Waubonsie eventually led by as many as 14.

"We have to play together as a team," Velasquez said. "I felt like we weren't doing that. It can't be one person. It has to be five guys on the court."

Cannon hit three of Waubonsie's five 3-pointers in the third quarter. Mead praised his improvement on defense, but also, big picture, for staying the course at Waubonsie.

"I'm super proud of Eric," Mead said. "He was through all the lean times. He stuck with it. He didn't think about transferring. He fought through it and is really a good leader for us."

Mead, even with a big lead, knew things weren't over with Dennis around.

"Ray J can really, really score," Mead said. "He had 26 and a couple those were deep 3s with a 6-5 guy in his face."

Oswego East, after a shaky start, seemed to right the ship in the second quarter. The Wolves went to a matchup zone. Dennis' three-point play in transition pushed the Wolves ahead, 22-21.

"We've been able to go to that [matchup zone] from time to time," Velasquez said. "It's something in the back pocket."

But it didn't last.

The Wolves, who will find out their playoff assignment this week, have had their share of struggles in a rugged non-conference slate. Oswego East is unbeaten in the Southwest Prairie Conference, but 8-7 in non-league games since Thanksgiving.

"We came out, second half, we said 'Hey, we have to win the first couple minutes, we have to defend and play our way,'" Velasquez said. "We can't settle. I felt like things snowballed and then we panicked."

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