Mike McAllister and Oswego East tried to steal one Friday from Plainfield East but lost the battle of the boards and, ultimately, a 71-62 Southwest Prairie Conference decision.
McAllister, the Wolves’ 6-1 senior point guard, scored a game- and season-high 28 points and had six steals, but the visiting Bengals claimed a 45-27 advantage on the boards.
“It’s good we attacked the boards like we did, especially because we ended up playing a lot more zone than I anticipated going in,” said Plainfield East coach Branden Adkins, whose team is now 10-7 overall and 5-2 in the league.
“Sometimes in a zone, you’re susceptible to offensive rebounds, but we did a good job with our defensive rebounding and at the offensive end.”
McAllister finished with four three-pointers but also did a nice job attacking the basket, forcing Adkins to try the 1-2-2 zone.
“I give McAllister a lot of credit,” Adkins said. “He made some from about 30 feet that we had to get out and contest, but early he was getting in the lane and creating some positive situations for them so I thought we’d tighten it up in the lane and force the outside shot.”
The host Wolves led 19-15 after one quarter, but early foul troubles sent two Oswego East starters — freshman Trevor Ross and sophomore Demetrius Ewing — to the bench in the first half.
The Wolves led 26-24 with 3:39 left in the half but East closed the quarter with a 14-2 run that gave the Bengals a 38-28 advantage at the break. It was sparked by a pair of 6-4 senior reserves, Tristin Esker and Joshua Smith. Esker had seven points in the quarter and Smith added four to go with five rebounds, three on the offensive end.
Two baskets by Houston McCullum (18 points) and a three-pointer from McAllister to open the third cut the lead to 38-35 but the Bengals upped the margin to nine at 53-44 by the end of the quarter and maintained it through the final eight minutes.
Junior guard Aaron Jordan led the Bengals with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Elyjah Goss added 13 and seven. Elkin finished with 10 points.
“I thought we were out there working and busting our butts.” said Oswego East coach Steve Szymanski, whose team fell to 5-12 and 2-5 in the league. “Without a couple of starters in the game made it tough on us in the second quarter and we were playing catchup after that run.”
Ewing added seven points but the Wolves were without senior Jeremy Mitchell, who has been sharing point guard duties with McAllister but suffered a broken jaw several games ago at Downers Grove North.
“(McAllister) did a great job,” Szymanski said. “He stepped up and handled the presure. He’s been in foul trouble a lot this year, but he did a nice job of staying out of foul trouble and creating things for everybody.
“We’re getting there. We’ve been playing better defensively the last three games and despite losing. It was a step in the right direction.”