Oswego East continues to have West Aurora's number
By Tyler Jasek's count, he's scored nine points in a game four times this season. Double figures has proved an elusive barrier.
But Oswego East's 6-foot-6 senior forward doesn't mind.
Jasek, who shares the fifth starter role with Mason Blanco, seems to have mastered a different skill that contributes to winning basketball. He took two charges in the Wolves' second meeting with West Aurora, back in November. Jasek did it one better Friday, drawing three.
"I'll put my body on the line to help the team," Jasek said.
Jasek's hustle plays highlighted a defensive effort that allowed the Wolves to continue their recent dominance of West Aurora. Oswego East overcame a slow start by holding the host Blackhawks to 14 points over the middle two quarters and went on to a 61-53 win, the Wolves third over West Aurora this season.
Bryce Shoto scored 18 points and Mekhi Lowery and Jehvion Starwood 14 each for Oswego East (20-5, 12-0), which won its 28th straight game in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
"A little bit of a slow start, but got some stops and proud of our guys' effort," Oswego East coach Ryan Velasquez said. "It's never easy to play here and play on the road in the SPC."
West Aurora (15-11, 7-5), which twice lost to Oswego East by double figures in November, jumped out to a 7-0 start just over two minutes in.
But the Blackhawks were held scoreless for a five-minute stretch in the second quarter and Oswego East capitalized for a 13-0 run to take a 22-20 halftime lead. Then West Aurora had as many turnovers, six, as points in the third quarter.
Sophomore Terrence Smith had 17 points and eight rebounds for West Aurora, but the Blackhawks had just four field goals from players other than Smith over the first three quarters. Josh Pickett added 10 points, all in the second half.
"We really went on a spurt where we just couldn't score," Smith said. "[Oswego East] is a team that you have to continue to score against because they run the floor pretty well and play hard. We had a bad stretch."
Oswego East's switch to a 1-3-1 matchup in the second quarter contributed to West Aurora's offensive malaise, and Smith left for a short time with blood on his jersey. Back-to-back steals and scores by Blanco, who scored nine points, gave the Wolves the lead at 18-14.
"That 1-3-1, it's just something that we got in our back pocket," Velasquez said. "Our length helps when we are in the right spots. It's nice when we can show different looks."
Jasek was in the right spot twice in the third quarter for two of Oswego East's three drawn charges during the eight-minute span, drawing an energetic response from the Wolves' bench.
"Coach Mo [assistant coach Patrick Molinari] always tells us to keep putting our body in the way. They'll run into you," Jasek said. "I don't focus on scoring. If I need to score, I'll score. If it's not there I won't. I keep saying I'm trying to do whatever it takes to help my team get the win."
Jasek attempted just one shot Friday, but his efforts defensively were exactly what the doctor ordered for Velasquez, whose team went into the fourth quarter ahead 34-26.
"We talked about it earlier in the week about how we have to start taking charges," Velasquez said. "Proud of him. Those are momentum changers. He's really unselfish, as is all our guys. When you can go out and take three charges, that says a lot about him as the ultimate teammate.
"I tell these guys all the time, we're going to win games with our defense. When we get stops it just propels us on the offensive end."
Shoto's short jumper in the lane gave Oswego East the lead for good at 24-22 with 4:22 left in the third quarter, and he later made a nifty off-balance shot on a drive as part of the 10-2 run. Shoto's score in transition, with just over three minutes remaining in the game, gave the Wolves their biggest lead at 49-34.
"At halftime we just cracked down on the little details, like rebounding and boxing out. The little details mattered in this game," Shoto said. "I try to get my teammates involved first and look for my shot second. My teammates found me and I got going. It's very tough to beat a team three times, but we did it."