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illside-Proviso East's Kalin Fisher goes to the basket over Oswego. Stacia Timonere~For Sun Times Media
The memory burned in Paris Lee.
“We still had a very bad taste in our mouths,” the senior Proviso East guard said.
Guided by a magnificent performance from Lee, the Pirates atoned in a spectacular manner.
The Illinois State recruit drilled five three-pointers and shot 8-for-10 from the floor in scoring 23 points as No. 5 and defending tournament champion Proviso East earned a 79-55 rout of No. 9 Oswego in a Proviso West Holiday tournament semifinal Saturday in Hillside.
The victory was the eighth in a row for the Pirates (11-2) and snapped the Panthers’ 10-game streak. Oswego (11-2) stunned Proviso East 68-59 in overtime the day before Thanksgiving at its own tournament.
“The first time we played them, we didn’t really know anything about them, we kind of took them for granted, but they’re a good team and they went off a nine-game winning streak after they beat us,” Lee said.
Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said the radically different outcome underlines the improvement the Pirates have made since the first week of the season. “People have to remember we lost eight seniors [from last year’s Class 4A state runner-up], and it’s taken us some time for our players to learn and accept their roles,” he said.
Lee and rapidly improving sophomore Kalin Fisher keyed the Pirates’ hot start. Fisher scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, converting all four of his shots from the floor.
Fisher scored eight points during an 13-0 run that established the Pirates’ frenetic and intense pace. If anything, the Pirates were too jacked up to extract their revenge. Lee and senior forward Sterling Brown were assessed technicals in the second quarter, fueling Oswego’s 20-8 burst that cut a 15-point Pirates lead to just 31-28.
“We’ve gotten to know some of the Oswego players and some of the trash-talking got out of hand, but we settled down,” Lee said. Proviso East scored the final eight points of the second quarter.
The Pirates expanded that burst into a game-changing 20-0 burst as Lee hit two three-pointers and scored eight points in the opening two minutes of the third quarter. Star senior guard Miles Simelton scored 21 points to lead the Panthers. Oswego shot just 28 percent (7-for-25) on three-point attempts.
Senior forward Darion Reddick scored a career-high 20 points in the first meeting. He was held to just three points Saturday.
“They showed us some different things than the first game,” Simelton said. “Paris Lee hit some transition threes and Sterling Brown was isolated in the post and they hurt us in that,” he said.
Proviso East led by as many as 29 points late in the third quarter. Brown, who fouled out in the first meeting, played through early foul difficulties and registered 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block. Reserve forward Paris McCullum contributed 12 points for the Pirates.
“I really like our balance and the play of seniors, Paris Lee and Sterling Brown, who hasn’t really had a chance to show his game because he’s been in foul trouble this tournament,” Boyce said.
“I like our depth and balance. Last year we had six or seven guys that could score off the dribble. We don’t have that luxury this year, and we’re sharing the ball better as a result.”
“They had too many runs and we had too few timeouts,” Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said. “They either turned us over or slowed us down.”
Senior Panthers’ guard Elliot McGaughy contributed 13 points though he was harassed into 5-for-18 shooting from the floor. “If you follow their program, and Donnie said as much, they hang their hat on their defense and we saw that today,” Schnable said.