The Oswego starting lineup waits for their names to be called prior to the start of the game.
Credit: Mario Rios, 42Fifty

The Oswego Panthers varsity boys basketball team (17-3, 7-2 in the Southwest Prairie Conference (SPC)) won against the Romeoville Spartans (13-10, 8-3 SPC) 65-59, at home, on Friday, Jan. 10 in the American Heart Association game.

Panthers star senior guard, Kobe Adams, was unable to play in this game due to the flu, so junior guard, Brady Peterlin started the night at point guard.

The Panthers began the first quarter with high energy. An energy that was portrayed through senior center Connor McCance’s posterizing put-back dunk over the Romeoville starting center. McCance wasn’t the only player fuel to the Panthers’ fire, off of the first of McCance’s six monstrous rejections, senior guard Jack Kahoun rainbowed a contested three-pointer on the fast break. The Panthers led 11-3 with five minutes left in the first quarter, but that was when the Panthers lost the momentum. Romeoville’s senior guard Destin Whitaker led the charge for the Spartans– as he closed the score gap to four– while the Spartans defense prevented the Panthers from scoring for the rest of the quarter. Oswego led, 11-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Spartans carried their momentum into the second quarter, they tied the game at eleven apiece. However, the Panthers refused to give in, McCance continued to protect the paint with ferocity, blocking two shots on the same play. Only moments after McCance’s defensive excellence, Kahoun pulled up right in Whitaker’s face, nailing another deep three-pointer. Whitaker went tit for tat with Kahoun as he drained a three to tie the game. After the back and forth threes, Both teams slowed down until the final minutes of the half when the Panthers were able to pull away. 

The score at the end of the half was 28-20, Panthers. McCance dominated the defensive glass with five blocks, Kahoun and Niesman both had great halves scoring ten and seven points respectively.

The second half started with a quick Romeoville three-pointer followed by a Niesman three when he caught the defense off-guard. However, Whitaker didn’t cool off, and senior center Trayton Trice accompanied him in carrying the offensive load for the Spartans. Trice got to the free-throw line on two consecutive plays and sunk all four free throws he took. While the Spartans were grooving offensively, the Panthers had seemingly hit a standstill; they needed a spark, and they needed it quickly before the game got out of hand. Senior guard Joey Niesman delivered— both offensively and defensively— by grabbing tough rebounds and getting to the basket with a couple of scoop and score layups against tight defense. The spark Niesman delivered seemed usual; he always seems to make winning plays.

“It’s all about the win. Niesman said. I don’t care what it has to take. Whether Jack scores fifty points, Kobe scores fifty points a game, I wouldn’t care, as long as we get the win. I’ll do what I have to do, if I gotta get a rebound, I gotta get assists, I gotta get a steal, I’ll do what I have to do for the team to win.”

 Niesman was able to finish the third quarter with a total of fourteen points and Kahoun finished with thirteen points. 

The Panthers led by a score of 37-34 entering the fourth quarter.

The beginning of the fourth quarter was dominated by the Spartans as they went on a twenty to nine-point run. Behind this run, the Spartans took their first lead of the game. A major factor in the Spartans fourth-quarter run was the success that they had in double-teaming Kahoun and McCance, both players were held to zero points in the fourth quarter until Kahoun went up for a three-pointer and instead of shooting, he passed out of the jump shot finding McCance for an easy layup. 

The score was 39-43, in favor of the Spartans, with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter; it was do or die time for the Panthers. To come out on top in these situations, players need to stay calm under pressure. Jack Kahoun is no stranger to how to carry yourself in the late stages of a game.

“It’s not to overhype ourselves. [We] act like its zero-zero and make [great] plays like we train to do.” Kahoun said.

Make great plays Kahoun did. With under a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were down by three. Kahoun received the ball in the left corner, he jabbed to his right, stepped back, and willed home a game-tying three as he was fouled. Kahoun went the line and knocked down the and one free throw that gave the Panthers the lead. On the other end, a Spartan was fouled— and luckily for the Panthers— he missed one of his free throws. After the Spartan free throws, the Panthers hit a huge three, but it was matched by an equally important bomb from beyond the arc. There were twenty-six seconds left on the clock, Niesman dribbled up court, the clocked showed four, Niesman dishes the ball into the corner, Kahoun went up with two seconds on the clock, the ball rattled around the rim and came out as it was halfway down to end regulation.

The score was 51-51 after four quarters of play.

The first play the Panthers ran in overtime resulted in a bucket credited to Niesman because of a goaltend by Trice. Niesman and Kahoun shared the load for the rest of overtime knocking down big baskets for the rest of overtime: whether it was a nearly impossible finish by Kahoun or a sweet Niesman fakeout resulting in a wide-open layup, the Panthers finished strong bringing home a tough fought 65-59 win over the Spartans. 

Both Kahoun and Niesman finished the night with twenty-plus points.

Coach Pohlmann spoke about what intangibles tend to get the Panthers over the hump after the game.

“It’s the mentality, we’re tough, we talk about playing great defense, and by the end of the game the way we pressure, it’s going to wear them down at the end of the game. Coach Pohlmann said. “It’s a war of attrition where we just keep chipping away and chipping away and we also have a few seniors who know what to expect [in these situations].”

The Panthers will attempt to continue their tremendous late gameplay in their next game at Plainfield North on Friday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 PM, in the Plainfield North Main Gym.

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