The boys’ sophomore basketball team competed in their first official SPC game against West Aurora. Despite not being on their home court, they took home a victory, barely winning 50-49.
The boys’ team had just returned from the Hoops for Healing tournament that took place over Thanksgiving break where they went 2-2. They won against both Downers Grove South and Naperville North but faced defeat to Hinsdale Central and Oswego High School.
The players were uncertain going into the game after learning West Aurora had beat Oswego, one of the teams East lost to in the tournament.
Sophomore Andrew Wiggins, one of the team’s starters and highest point scorers, was not phased by the pressure of the game.
“Anyone’s going to feel pressure on the court, whether you’re a starter for the game or not,” Wiggins said. “You have to calm down and realize you’re on the court for a reason. Trust in your abilities.”
The game started off fast for both teams but East performed well on both offense and defense, securing a lead of 35-16 by the end of the first half. This didn’t last long after a quick turnaround from West Aurora.
West’s ability to make such a major comeback and close such a wide score gap intimidated many of East’s players. Sophomore Austin Caracci, another starter for the team, was surprised by the game’s sudden change in pace.
“We started off pretty fast and played well as a team but by half they came out playing pretty aggressive and probably surprised most of our players,” Caracci said. “They took possession of the ball and maintained it throughout most of the third quarter.”
West Aurora came out of the half welcoming a new intensity into the game, which followed up with countless fouls from both teams. With their aggressive game-play, they were able to keep possession for most of the quarter and double their score. East now only led by eight points at the end of the third quarter and desperately needed to keep their composure.
“We had to calm down, minimize our mistakes and slow down every possession so we had time to get a shot in,” Wiggins added.
West Aurora managed to make the comeback and their student section roared with excitement as the fourth quarter finished at a tie of 46-46. Within the four minute period, several turnovers allowed both teams to score and even led to one of East’s players getting benched.
Sophomore Aiden Sims, one of East’s starters and most frequently played athletes, finished in overtime and said that the team could certainly demonstrate some improvement.
“We weren’t totally confident in how today’s game was going to play out and while it’s fun to celebrate our win, there’s still always room for improvement,” Sims said. “Especially when reflecting on the second half of today’s game, we really let them catch up.”
The boys were successfully able to perform under pressure and run the clock down, securing their one-point lead. During these high pressure situations, Head Coach Robert Pfaff said that he expects his athletes to respond accordingly and put themselves in a position for success.
“It always gets a little hectic when games get like that. The main thing is to make sure my players stay checked in, know what they need to do and communicate with each other so we can execute what we are trying to do,” Pfaff said.
The boys’ team takes on Minooka on their home court this Friday.
Grace Praxmarer is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl