The girls’ varsity basketball team returned to action in their home opener to take a 55-41 victory against conference rival West Aurora on Tuesday.
Ahead of the game, the spirits of the team were at a low point following their Yorkville tournament, where the team went 1-3.
“All the teams there were pretty good. We lost our game to Fremd 28-69, but they’re one of the best teams in the state right now,” junior guard Alexia Pelligrino said.
Although the team battled through some tough losses, the energy and spirits of the team remained high for their upcoming season and conference games.
“We’re super hype. We’re a really good team, so we’re ready to push through this season,” junior guard Riley Doggett said.
This is Doggett’s third year on the varsity team.
The high energy was shared by one of the core emotional and skill leaders of the team: senior Katie Jorgensen.
“I think we have had a good week of practice, which is preparing us for the home opener and we are really excited to have the home court for our first conference game,” Jorgensen said. “This team has a lot of positive energy and we all do a great job of uplifting each other and keeping spirits high which is gonna be a big part of a successful season.”
The game kicked off with East winning the tip-off and quickly being able to score. Sophomore standout Cami Phillips, put the first points on the board with a three-point shot only a few seconds into the game.
The Wolves struggled to score for a while even after Doggett took a charge to give the lady Wolves possession of the ball. The no-scoring dry spell ended when six-foot sophomore Ava Valek sank a basket to make the game neck and neck at 9-10.
“Our coaches prepare us well for times like this,” Valek said. “I know I can use my height in games to help the team.”
The sophomores on the court took control with Phillips being able to put up another two points at the end of the first half, giving the Wolves momentum for the rest of the game, the underclassmen dominance was highlighted by head coach Abe Carretto.
“Ava has been good for us all season, she gets up there and rebounds really well,” Carretto said. “Ava and Cami have been like a spark on the court, they’ve been really solid for us.”
By the start of the second quarter, the momentum stayed with the Wolves, with Dogget putting up a 3 point shot along with Valek putting up three more.
Both sophomores, Phillips and Valek, continued their dominance in the first half of the game, with Doggett putting up a majority of the team’s points. Giving the team a 31-19 lead at the half.
“It’s always great to have a strong start. It gives us energy for the rest of the game,” Doggett said.
The start of the second half saw some head-to-head battles for possession between the teams, with back and forth three-point baskets, one from West Aurora immediately followed by Phillips, but by the end of the third quarter, the Wolves had secured a sizable 13 point lead.
“Even though we were winning we had to stay focused on the game,” Jorgensen said. “West Aurora is a good, physical team, so we couldn’t underestimate them, we needed to stay focused if we wanted to win.”
And they stayed focused.
By the fourth, the Wolves maintained their lead and held West Aurora to only 14 points. A majority of those points came from East’s fouls, a high fouling game on both ends, with 13 fouls for East, and eight for West Aurora.
“I stayed aggressive, but I was really scared of being fouled out,” Doggett said. Doggett herself put up four fouls during the game.
Despite the fouls, Pellegrino’s two rebounds kept the West Aurora girls from taking a lead, with West Aurora falling short 55-41 to give Oswego East their first conference victory.
The physicality of both teams was impressive, but the Wolves excelled in shooting and scoring, with Riley Doggett leading the pack with 13 of the team’s points as highlighted by Carretto.
“We’re going to have a great season if we can stay consistent like that. Riley did good with shooting but we need to keep focusing on that for the rest of our games,” Carretto said.
The Wolves will take to the road to play Minooka on Thursday night for their next conference game.
Samantha Trujillo is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl