Animated energy filled the gym as spectators awaited the jump ball that would initiate Friday night’s game against the Minooka Indians. The clammer of excitement mixed with the energized pre-game music set the tone for the five senior starters. The lineup of Peyton Finn, Daizja Hollman, Carly Engelhardt, Ashlynn Miller, and Christine Corpuz was foreshadowed by the large posters that bordered the baseline. Despite the sea of red in support of senior night, the Lady Wolves were unable to secure an important conference win and lost 39-50.
East started the first half by moving the ball well and finding openings to shoot. This has been one of the team’s strengths as they have had double digit assists in three of their last five games. However, even with the quick ball movement, the Wolves were unable to convert their first five shots of the game.
With Minooka leading, senior point guard Christine Corpuz was able to make two significant 3-point field goals and bring the Wolves up 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“I feel like I play with a lot of intensity and it’s kind of contagious,” Corpuz said. “If I bring a lot of energy, other people will play with that same energy. We need to keep playing hard and playing for each other.”
Head coach Abraham Carretto said that in recent games more players have started to score and take opportunities to shoot when they are open. He said that the offensive strategy against the Indians would be to set good screens and attack them on a pick and roll.
The beginning of the second quarter unfolded similar to the first as Minooka went on a 7-point scoring run. The Wolves’ defense considerably slowed down and were reacting to their opponent, rather than anticipating their plays.
The momentum on the court shifted when senior forward Carly Engelhardt scored a basket, making it a more competitive contest of 12-13. For the remainder of the half, that fiery force was projected in all players and spectators in the gym. As the chants, cheers, and shouts rose in volume, East’s defense rose in aggression. This energy limited shots from Minooka and forced turnovers on the ball that the Wolves were able to capitalize on. At this point the Indians were called on their third travel of the game, which was exactly what East was looking to do from their defensive strategy.
“We want to put some pressure on their guards to hopefully get some mistakes in their passing game,” Carretto said. “We need to make sure we are getting out to their shootings and defending their best plays consistently.”
This fast-paced power enabled a few rapid break-aways that left the Wolves down by one (16-17) at the end of the first half.
The identical senior lineup was placed back onto the court to start the second half. Almost immediately, Minooka was able to score a 3-point field goal and set the tone for the quarter. Lots of shots went up as many players took chances at the net. By far, the most amount of scoring took place during this time.
Oswego East and Minooka went back and forth, taking turns in leading the score. Junior forward Lauren Shea was able to make 6 points for her team during this scoring run and keep them competitive with the Indians.
“I just wanted to help my teammates push the ball. A lot of times just running as hard as you can down the floor and beating the defense down there, you can beat them to it,” Shea said. “That was an easier way to score for us and allowed us to put up quick buckets.”
Shea said she thinks it wasn’t the team’s best performance, although she felt best personally about her third quarter play. She said she was proud of how hard everyone was playing and that this game could just be taken as a learning experience.
After Shea’s baskets, Minooka went on another scoring run, securing 8 consecutive points for their team. At this point, East started to full-court press in an attempt to slow their opponent’s shooting game. Despite the effort, the Wolves were unsuccessful in recovering and ended the third quarter behind at 26-36.
Oswego East Wolfpack still had hope they could come back from this 10-point deficit as they began the final quarter by howling the “I Believe” chant. This encouragement definitely impacted Carly Engelhardt as she came into the game with a lot of intensity, moving well on both defense and offense.
Engelhardt scored 4 points this quarter and helped bring zeal back to the rest of the team. She played hard all the way until the final buzzer and definitely inspired aggression in the final fourth of the game.
“The team just came out with energy,” Engelhardt said. “I know as a captain I have to step up to help the team get back into the game, I tried to do my part there.”
Although the Lady Wolves were willing to work hard and compete with the Indians, they could not come back from their third quarter play and ended with a loss of 39-50. This could be attributed to Minooka having success in getting offensive rebounds and working harder off the ball to keep possession.
“I thought girls had good looks and open shots, but some things just weren’t falling that usually go in,” Carretto said. “On our missed shots we didn’t get enough rebounds, so those few things didn’t help our situation out.”
After the game, senior Ashlynn Miller who has been a part of the Oswego East girls’ basketball program the past four years, spoke of her experience. Although a loss would hurt their overall record on the season, the team ultimately learned a lot about their game and a lot about each other.
“I love this group of girls so much, and they make me want to work harder for the team to succeed,” Miller said. “It’s never been an easy process playing this sport six out of seven days of the week, but I believe it’s all been worth it. The team is what has kept me going.”
The Wolves look to redeem this loss with another conference game at West Aurora this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Tanya Koomjohn is a sports writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl