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Through the first five quarters of the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament, Oswego East had been outscored by a total of 48 points. But that took a drastic change in a hurry against East Aurora Thursday night.
Trailing 19-8 after the first quarter, the Wolves turned the tide by outscoring East by 23 points the rest of the way and rolling to a 75-63 win. The victory, just the second of the season for Oswego East, moves its record to 1-1 in the tournament and it closes out pool play against Belvidere North at 3 p.m. Friday.
A win over North likely sends the Wolves to Saturday’s third place game.
“After a tough loss (Wednesday) we played this game really hard,” said CJ Vaughan, who scored a game-high 24 points for the Wolves. “We want to play in that game on Saturday and we will come out with a lot of urgency.”
Many of the same problems — turnovers and rebounding — that plagued the Wolves in Wednesday’s 37-point loss to Pleasure Ridge Park (Ky.) reared their ugly head in the first quarter, but Oswego East eventually did a better job of solving the Tomcats’ pressure as the game progressed. After turning the ball over 35 times on Wednesday, they cut that total to 17 and shot 50 percent on the night, with many of their buckets coming around the hoop after breaking the press. That helped the Wolves to their own 19-8 advantage on the scoreboard in the second quarter and led to a 27-all tie at the break.
Two quick treys by Vaughan and Jeremy Mitchell gave the Wolves the lead at the start of the second half, and that eventually stretched to double-digits for the first time at 55-44 on a Scooter Smith bucket with 7:11 to go in the game. The lead was as many as 15 (72-57) after Vaughan canned a free throw with 1:05 to go.
Vaughn added a game-high nine rebounds for Oswego East, while Kendall Dorsey tossed in 13 points and Houston McCullum and Smith added nine each.
“I give our kids a lot of credit for being resilient,” Wolves coach Ron Murphy said. “When you lose a game like we did, to bounce back and win a game, even when we got down, I think that speaks volumes about how they worked through it by staying focused and positive.
“We did a better job when they pressured us of making them pay at the other end. That was the difference for us, the quality of our shots.”
DeJon Talbert was held to just 10 shots, but led East Aurora with 19 points in an efficient effort. Jonathon Villezcas scored 10 for the second straight night, while Fred Reynolds posted eight.
“I thought when they responded to our surge, we never responded to theirs,” Tomcats coach Wendell Jeffries said. “I thought we were getting decent shots, but all of the sudden the shots we made early we missed (later).”
East Aurora will round out pool play against Pleasure Ridge Park at 7:45 p.m. Friday.