Up by 16 points early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Class 4A Plainfield North Regional title game, it appeared that the Oswego girls basketball team had the game in hand against West Aurora.
The Blackhawks, however, made things much more interesting.
A 17-3 burst in the fourth pulled West within two points of Oswego twice down the stretch. But with three seconds left, junior Jordan Campbell calmly sank two free throws to help the Panthers hang on to a 56-51 win.
Oswego will face Metea Valley at 8 p.m. Monday in the Class 4A Joliet Central Sectional semifinals.
“I was definitely nervous, but I tried to treat it like it was practice,” Campbell said of her clinching free throws. “I had to keep myself composed. It went in. (After the first went in), I was like, ‘Let’s get the second one, we’re about to be up by five, game’s over.’ We kept it together. That was the best part of the game.”
West (19-9) had a hot start, jumping out to a 10-4 lead with seven points from Abriya Zeitz and a Taylor Jacobsen three-pointer. But from there, Oswego (23-7) took command and grabbed a 27-20 lead by halftime.
Oswego then opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run and pushed the lead to 16 points on five different occasions, the last coming on the first possession of the fourth, making the lead 47-31.
“We got up by 16 and played pretty well there for a while,” Oswego coach Chad Pohlmann said. “Sometimes you just have to hold them off at the end. We held on to the win. I thought we made a lot of plays. I thought we did a good job on them defensively after the way we started the game. We got a little tentative when we got up 16.”
With Amri Wilder, Oswego’s star point guard, on the bench with foul trouble at the start of the fourth quarter, West took advantage. Seemingly down for the count, the Blackhawks put together a 17-3 spurt to cut the lead to 50-48 with 2:55 left to play.
“It just shows how fast something can go downhill,” Campbell said. “I think we got down because we knew that we were going to win for a second and it spiraled out of control. But I feel like we stepped it up after that and finished it well.”
Oswego did the job defensively down the stretch, holding West to two points in the final 2:55 of the game.
“We still held our composure and made enough plays,” Pohlmann said. “It’s a testament to our kids. Having to go through that and understanding what we had to do at the end to win it was critical. This will help us as we move forward in the tournament.”
Erin Sinnott led all scorers with 18 points for Oswego. Campbell added 12 and Siarra O’Neill and Wilder each scored 11.
Zeitz led West Aurora with 16 points. Liz Skaggs had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Taylor Jacobsen added 10 points.
“It was just their heart,” West coach Connie Siljendahl said. “I was so impressed with them tonight, their work ethic. We had a phenomenal year. They’re having a blast in (the locker room). They’re all crying and smiling. Their goal was to be a family this year, and they did it.”