Panthers crush Spartans with pressure defenseOswego guard Jamaal Richardson receives a hand sandwich on his way to the basket, courtesy of Romeoville's Nick Samuelson.
Updated: March 23, 2011 9:40AM
It might have been one of the coldest days of the winter, but Oswego turned up the heat on Romeoville Friday night in a Southwest Prairie conference matchup.
Using their three-quarter-court press to get good looks at the basket on the offensive end, the Panthers shot 63 percent in the first half and improved to 5-1 in league play (13-4 overall) with a 77-59 win.
Oswego got on the Spartans quickly, with all five starters finding their way into the scorebook in the first quarter. Ryan West tallied eight points - including two three-pointers - Miles Simelton had six and Jamaal Richardson posted five as the Panthers led 23-7 after the first eight minutes.
They repeated that performance in the second quarter, scoring 23 more points to lead 46-21 at the break. In all Oswego made 20 of its 32 first half shots.
"I thought we played a heck of a half, it might have been our best of the season," said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable. "It was because of our defense, we were flying around and making things happen. We forced turnovers and converted them into points."
Schnable gave credit for much the offensive flow to sophomore point guard Elliot McGaughy. McGaughy, who finished as one of four Panthers in double figures with 15 points, kept the pace of the game quick and found teammates open for shots.
"Coach told me at the beginning of the game I had to be the quarterback of the team," McGaughy said. "Miles and Ryan are in the corners and I can go either way (with the ball), I have four different options on the court and my job is just to get the ball to one of them."
After a half like that there is usually a bit of a letdown, and Romeoville took advantage. The Spartans began chipping away at the lead and eventually pulled as close as 11 (64-53) on a steal and layup by Nate Washington (game-high 23 points) with 6:30 to go.
Washington was fouled on the play and had a chance to cut the lead to 10. He missed, and the Panthers responded with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to pull away.
"Give credit to them, (coach) Jeff (Bambule) coached them up and they played really hard in the second half," Schnable said. "We got the momentum back, and we recommitted to playing defense."
West and Simelton led Oswego with 19 points apiece, while Richardson finished the night with 11. Oswego travels to Plainfield South, which also headed into play Friday with just one league loss, in a key conference game Tuesday night.