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Sophomore guard Desiree Merritt instantly shifted her center of attention for Oswego East with 4:20 left within the first quarter Tuesday evening when Maggie Lewandowski was once whistled for her 2d foul.

With the Wolves’ main scorer at the bench, Merritt discovered it was once her flip to take the wheel.

“I knew as soon as Maggie were given that 2d fee that I needed to step up and I needed to be a pacesetter of the crew in that second,” Merritt mentioned later on. “That’s in point of fact the place my mindset was once.

“I simply in point of fact wasn’t fascinated about anything however the sport. I used to be simply fascinated about the following play — what can I do at this second?”

Merritt saved Oswego East afloat, development a temporary lead on a 3-pointer past due in legislation. Lewandowski then returned and led the fee to a 57-52 win in extra time over Yorkville.

In all, Merritt ended up with 12 issues because the Wolves (15-13, 13-2) gained the Southwest Prairie West name. Lewandowski led all scorers with 23 issues, together with 21 in the second one part and OT.

Brooke Spychalski paced Yorkville (20-9, 12-3) with 20 issues. Macie Jones added 11.

Oswego East trainer Abe Carretto, in the meantime, was once inspired with Merritt’s poise. The Wolves had been down 10-0 with two starters at the bench with two fouls, together with Lewandowski.

All that Merritt did was once stay the Wolves alive with a 27-26 deficit at halftime.

“She was once large to principally turn into the purpose guard,” Carretto mentioned. “She slowed some issues down there. She ran some offenses and known as them out. I assumed she was once getting excellent seems.

“We saved getting down and saved combating.”

Oswego East's Desiree Merritt drives around Yorkville's Makenzie Sweeney and Macie Jones (right) during a game in Oswego on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.(Jon Cunningham for The Beacon-News)
Oswego East’s Desiree Merritt (21) drives round Yorkville’s Makenzie Sweeney and Macie Jones, proper, right through a Southwest Prairie West sport in Oswego on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / The Beacon-Information)

So far as her demeanor in this type of giant sport, Merritt credited an progressed mentality as her 2d varsity season has improved.

“Firstly of the season, it wasn’t so nice, but it surely’s getting higher,” Merritt mentioned. “I’m going to proceed to recover so long as I paintings on it.”

Lewandowski was once caught to the bench together with her two fouls, so she had a front-row seat in observing what Merritt did to stay the Wolves going.

“I think like she’s been operating so much this 12 months,” Lewandowski mentioned. “Ultimate 12 months as a freshman, she was once more or less frightened. She’s were given numerous self belief, and she or he’s in a position to run issues when I will be able to’t.”

Yorkville couldn’t capitalize on a 10-0 run to start out the primary quarter. The Foxes dropped each video games this season to Oswego East.

“We were given out of our rhythm,” Yorkville trainer Kim Wensits mentioned. “I assume you must credit score them. They’re those who beat us. We need to credit score them for responding, now not being afraid to be down.”

Oswego East's Desiree Merritt (21) ties up Yorkville's Makenzie Sweeney during a game in Oswego on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.(Jon Cunningham for The Beacon-News)
Oswego East’s Desiree Merritt (21) ties up Yorkville’s Makenzie Sweeney right through a Southwest Prairie West sport in Oswego on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / The Beacon-Information)

Lewandowski scored 8 instantly issues down the stretch as Oswego East tied the sport 47-47. Merritt then gave the Wolves a 50-47 lead with 47 seconds left on a 3-pointer.

“Someone publish a shot, and I boxed out arduous and were given the rebound,” Merritt mentioned. “I dribbled out to the 3-point line. I noticed a gap, so I let it fly and it went in.

“I couldn’t even let you know how I felt at that second. I had numerous adrenaline.”

Lewandowski scored the primary six issues of OT and the Wolves had been by no means threatened from there, successful their first convention name since 2017.

“This implies so much as a result of I’ve by no means in point of fact skilled anything else like this,” Lewandowski mentioned. “We’ve been operating so arduous, beginning in the summertime. All of it got here in combination. It is a excellent feeling.”

Lewandowski could have taken every other famous person flip Tuesday, however Carretto is aware of he can believe Merritt in a tricky spot.

“She’s labored on her sport a ton,” Carretto mentioned. “She places so much on herself. She doesn’t have to try this as a result of, when she’s beneath keep watch over and calm, she will make some performs.”

Paul Johnson is a contract reporter for The Beacon-Information.

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