Oswego sleep walked through its game against Neuqua Valley on Tuesday night. The Wildcats, led by sophomore John Poulakidas, came out and dominated in almost every aspect of the game, out rebounding the Panthers and notching four more assists.
The crowd was never into the game, as the Panthers only lead was held early in the first quarter. The Panthers came out and looked as if they were going through the motions.
“Not focused,” Panther head coach Chad Pohlman said frustratedly about his team. “Not ready to come out with a killer instinct.”
Both teams started out slow, which was expected given the holiday break. However, when the Wildcats sped up, the Panthers were never able to catch back up.
“We could never get in a flow offensively,” Pohlman said. “Give them credit, they ran their stuff really well, but we didn’t execute very well.”
Coach Pohlman did not understate the play of the Wildcats. Poulakidas in particular was a man possessed, dropping 26 points and six rebounds to go along with two assists. He took over in the second half, putting up 19 points down the stretch. His presence drew multiple matchups from the Panthers including senior Jamal Fomby, junior Dylan Engler and junior Kobe Adams.
When these two teams met up over Thanksgiving as a part of the Hoops for Healing Tournament, the Panthers won behind a 35 point performance from junior Jack Kahoun, including a game winning three. Kahoun was held to just 10 this time around.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Panthers, as junior Joey Niesman came off the bench in the second quarter and scored eight points in the final three minutes of the first half.
“Joey is kind of like our microwave,” Pohlman said. “He’s a gamer, and he’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up.”
Niesman has a tendency to do that for this team. On multiple occasions this year, Niesman has come off the bench, been a force on defense and provided a spark inside for the offense.
“I’m not scared,” Niesman said, concerning his mentality when coming off the bench.
Niesman’s mentality is evident when he plays. He has the ability to shoot from the outside, but if he’s running down the court on the fast break, you can bet he’s going to drive the lane and finish like a big.
“I like to think of myself as a big guy,” Niesman joked. “When I’m in the paint, I have so much fun.”
Niesman finished with 11 points.
Other stat leaders for Oswego included Kahoun who had a 10-point, four-rebound performance. Engler had eight points to go along with three rebounds and an assist. Senior Jacob Wayne also played well off the bench, posting eight points, a board and three assists.
The Panthers now have some time to recuperate and get ready for their next game on Friday against the Tigers of Plainfield North.
“It’s going to be a big bounce back game,” Niesman said. “I think we can win.”