BATAVIA – The Batavia boys basketball team got off to a bad start Wednesday against Oswego, the top seed in the IHSA Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional.
The host Bulldogs missed their first six shots and turned the ball over seven times in the first five minutes to enable the Panthers to take a 14-0 lead in the IHSA Class 4A Batavia Regional semifinal. Oswego went on to rout Batavia, 91-51.
Senior Zach Strittmatter finally got Batavia on the scoreboard with three minutes left in the first quarter, hitting a short jumper in the paint.
“I think we were ready for this game,” Strittmatter said. “We came out a little bit flat. They’re a really good team, obviously. It felt like they didn’t miss in the first half.”
Oswego senior Elliott McGaughy didn’t miss often in the opening half. The 6-foot-2 guard hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the period.
McGaughy said the Panthers were itching to begin postseason play after the game was postponed from Tuesday.
“We were waiting for this game,” he said. “We were kind of upset that it was a snow day yesterday. We’ve been ready. We’ve been preparing for this. Coach [Kevin Schnable] said we had to treat this game like a championship game and that’s what we did tonight. We came out strong, fast, and physical.”
Sophomore Zach West came off the bench to drain a couple more 3-pointers for Oswego in the final minute of the quarter, giving the Panthers a 28-5 lead.
“Every time I turned around there was somebody else hitting a 3,” Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. “They’re a good team. They’ve got a lot of guys that can hurt you.”
No one hurt the Bulldogs (12-15) more than McGaughy and Miles Simelton. Simelton, a 6-1 senior, scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half. He opened the second quarter scoring on a 3 from the left wing and closed it with another from the top of the key to put Oswego (27-2) up 51-23 at the half.
The Panthers hit 53 percent of their shots from the field in the first half, including an amazing 91 percent (10 of 11) from beyond the arc.
Oswego set two school records in the win – single-season wins with 27, and 14 3-pointers in a game.
“You know, good sharing leads to good shooting and this is a group that has really developed an unselfish approach to playing offensive basketball,” Schnable said.
Batavia made 15 turnovers in the first half and finished with 22. Oswego had just four turnovers in the opening half.
As bad as the first half was for the Bulldogs, it could have been even worse. The Panthers hit just 56 percent (9 for 16) of their free throws in the half. Batavia’s man-to-man defense was no match for Oswego’s quickness, which resulted in a lot of fouls.
Strittmatter led the Bulldogs with 15 points – 11 coming in the second half – and five rebounds.
“Just going out fighting,” Strittmatter said. “We knew we weren’t probably going to come back from that deficit, but that’s the way I’ve always played. You’ve got to pretend like the score’s 0-0 and just go hard the whole game.”
Micah Coffey added 8 points for Batavia and senior point guard Mike Rueffer scored 7.