Boys basketball: Panthers edged in regional semifinal

Anthony Iozzo

Sophomore forward Markus Tobias drives up for a shot last Friday in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal at Waterford. The Panthers lost 33-31. [Photo by Nichole McCormack]

The Oregon boys basketball team’s season came to an end last Friday in a 33-31 loss at Waterford in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals.

In a back-and-forth game, the Panthers found themselves down a basket for much of the game, tying it once in the fourth quarter but never able to grab the lead.

Oregon head coach Jon Nedelcoff said that poor shooting hurt but, ultimately, it was a lack of attacking the basket for rebounds and high-percentage shots.

“We went 13-for-42 against a packed zone, and we didn’t create opportunities off the boards,” he said in a phone interview. “We were not always attacking the boards for a second shot, even though we might have had a good initial shot.”

Nedelcoff added that not being able to attack the basket also hurt Oregon’s chances to get to the free-throw line.

Although both teams didn’t get to the line much, Waterford made it 12 times to Oregon’s two. The Wolverines only hit six, but that was enough to gain advantage on the Panthers, ultimately sealing their fate.

“You are not always going to be able to score on your initial setups or initial play. You have to find another way to score if your field-goal percentage isn’t very good,” Nedelcoff said. “We didn’t make that happen.”

Waterford closed out the Panthers at the line with senior forward Brandon Schindler connecting on the final two to clinch the win.

Both teams were even in most categories, making each possession very important in the low-scoring affair, especially since Waterford was patient.

The Wolverines held the ball for a minute or more several times to shorten the game, but they did turn the ball over 14 times.

The Panthers could not turn the extra possessions into points, however.

“We couldn’t convert (turnovers) in transition, which is something we needed to do,” he said.

Junior forward Andrew McCauley led Oregon with seven points, while senior forward Mike Rosga and sophomore forward Markus Tobias each chipped in six points.

Waterford was led by senior forward Chris Benavides with 10 points.

Oregon finishes the season 12-11, while Waterford  is now 13-11.

Now that the season is over, Oregon can begin to look at next year.

It loses senior Dan Schwartz, who scored 277 points this year, and Rosga, who scored 85.

Seniors Tim Fallon (43 points), Jeffrey Jaeggi and Sam Fredrickson will also be gone.

“It is hard to see five good seniors that had really good chemistry with their teammates,” Nedelcoff said. “That will help them later in life, but it is always tough to lose when you know the door is open for something special to happen. We didn’t get to the door and close it.”

Despite the losses, the Panthers do have some key players coming back, including McCauley, who was second on the team with 205 points, and sophomore forward Josh Sromovsky, who finishes with 164 points.

Add junior point guard Jon Conduah (110 points) and the Panthers have three of their top four scorers returning next season.

Despite the experience of the returning group, Nedelcoff said the players need to learn how to do multiple tasks on the court.

“They can’t let one situation in a game affect another situation,” he said. “They have to find another way to score.”

The Panthers also return junior guard Shaw Storey and Tobias. Both players played significant minutes off the bench this season.

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