With only four games left before the playoffs, the Wolves faced off against the Oswego Panthers this past Friday in a rematch from earlier in the season. The Wolves won in the last meeting 57-49 and looked to complete the sweep. They did indeed complete the sweep, in dominating fashion, as the Wolves beat the Panthers 67-49.
The first quarter proved to be the turning point for the game as the Wolves got out to a 16-3 lead in the quarter over the Panthers, one that the away team would never recover from. Sam Shultz led the charge with 6 of his 21 points coming in the first along with scoring contributions from Will Wolfe, Jalen Tucker, and Tremont Brewer.
“We had the perfect game plan,” Shultz said. “We executed it to perfection.”
The Wolves’ defense in the first quarter allowed the Panthers to score only points in the first. The Panthers just couldn’t seem to get in the interior of the Wolves’ defense and had to resort to shooting low percentage outside shots.
“Defense is our number one focus in practice when preparing for their personnel,” senior forward Rithik Ganesan said. “Coming out strong has always been an emphasis for our team and it seemed like we were able to catch Oswego off guard.”
The Panthers looked to rebound in the second but couldn’t gain any ground on the Wolves as they got dominated in scoring in the quarter, 15-8. The Wolves would have had a 10-point lead had it not been for a last second heave from Oswego’s Kobe Adams.
“We focused on knowing where the shooters were on the court and keeping people in front of us,” Tucker said.
The Wolves entered the half with a 31-11 lead.
The Panthers made it a little more competitive in the third, scoring 14 opposed to the Wolves 15. It was a balanced scoring effort with Shultz, Wolfe, Goetz, and Ganesan all contributing to the scoring column.
The 4th quarter ended up being the only quarter the Wolves were outscored but too little too late as the gap between the two teams was unable to be closed by the Panthers.
“We had something to prove,” Coach Ryan Velazquez said after the game. “They have good shooters like [Jack] Kahoun and Kobe Adams. They’re all great players, but we were great on the defensive end and limited them the best we could.”
The 4th quarter also marked a milestone for senior forward Sam Shultz as he scored his 1000th point near the end of the game.
“It was something I’ve always wanted to accomplish especially coming back from my [meniscus tear] injury. It was a blessing.
“I’ve been coaching Sam [Shultz] for four years now and it’s been a pleasure for me to see his growth as a player and a leader. His best basketball is ahead of him,” Velasquez said.
The Wolves’ next game is tonight at home against Waubonsie.
Sahishnu Boyapally is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl