Vandals fall to Oilers in home opener

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By Seth Whitehead

It was a sequence that became all-to-common during the second half of the Vandalia boys basketball team's home opener Friday night: Shot leaves East Alton-Wood River player's hand. Shot clangs off the iron. Ball winds up back the hands of an Oilers player.

And ultimately, that disturbing trend led to a frustrating 45-41 loss for the Vandals.

Overall, Vandalia finished with a 28-25 advantage on the glass. But 12 of the Oilers' 25 boards were of the offensive variety, leading to 11 second-chance points.

The Oilers grabbed eight of their offensive rebounds during a key nine-minute span in the second half, as eight second-chance points helped the Oilers extend a lead that stood at three points at halftime to nine points, 41-32, early in the fourth quarter.

The Vandals never recovered.

"Offensive rebounds really killed us," Vandalia coach Kevin Jackson said. "I don't know how many offensive rebounds they got, but it was way, way too many."

One particularly frustrating possession stood out, as the Oilers snagged four offensive boards in a 10-15-second span, the last resulting in a putback by Zack Carlton.

It would be the last offensive board the Vandals (0-5) would surrender, however, helping them make things interesting down the stretch. But despite a never-say-die attitude by Jackson's young squad and some missed free throws by the visiting team, the Oilers maintained a two-possession lead all the way up until the final buzzer.

It wasn't for a lack of effort by the Vandals, who forced three turnovers and beat the Oilers to a number of loose balls in the final two minutes. But Vandalia missed five-straight 3-pointers during that same stretch before a Drew Bell trifecta brought the Vandals within four points in the closing seconds.

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late at that juncture.

"It's not at all effort," Jackson said. "The effort's not the issue. It's (executing in late-game) situations and things like that."

The Vandals executed beautifully early in the game, racing out to an 11-3 lead. But the Oilers battled back to take a 15-14 advantage midway through the second quarter, doing a little foreshadowing in the process , going up 16-15 on a 3-point play off an offensive rebound.

But the Vandals answered with a 6-0 spurt that included a pair of putbacks by Mitch Johnson, taking a 20-15 lead with 2:13 to go.

A rare four-point play put the momentum firmly in the Oilers' corner, however. And after a free throw tied the game at 20 moments later, Trevor Moss capped an 8-0 EA-WR run with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Oilers a 23-20 advantage at halftime.

Vandalia got within two points of tying the game early in the fourth quarter after Brenden Wasmuth came up with a steal and found Mitch Johnson in transition. But the Oilers countered with a steal and fast-break bucket of their own, followed by the aforementioned possession in which they grabbed four offensive boards before cashing in.

Making matters all the more frustrating was the fact that the possession was set up by one of the Vandals' 18 turnovers.

"We just had missed opportunity after missed opportunity after missed opportunity," Jackson said. "And unfortunately, that bit us in the end."

Johnson led Vandalia with 15 points and eight rebounds, but he took just four shots in the second half.

"He did some nice things in the first half," Jackson said. "Unfortunately, they did some things (defensively), and we weren't able to get him many touches in the second half."

"... Offensively, we have to get post touches for Mitch, Will (Cowger) and Marty (Johnson). And our guards need to put the ball on the floor a little more. We're a little too easy to guard right now."

The Oilers wound up shooting just 38 percent from the floor (18-for-47), doing most of their damage on putbacks and dribble penetration.

"We did a pretty good job defensively, holding them to 45 points," Jackson said. "We just let them get to the hole a little too much."

Though the Vandals were competitive in defeat for the third time in five games, Jackson said his team has to learn to deal with adversity. The dreaded snowball effect has cost Vandalia in each game thus far.

"It's almost like when something bad happens we're waiting on that shoe to drop," Jackson said. "We'll have to get past that stage. And it's hard to get past, but it's not like we can't do it."

JV Game

Vandalia 44,

East Alton-Wood River 41

In a game full of wild momentum swings, a 10-2 third-quarter run gave the Vandals the lead for good.

Still, after Angel Osorio capped the run with a transition bucket that put Vandalia up 38-31, the Oilers managed to hang around, as the visiting team had a couple chances to tie the game with a 3-pointer in the final minute.

Osorio ruined the first such opportunity, however, coming up with a steal with 26 seconds remaining. Cory Bunker missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity, giving the Oilers another chance to tie the game. But Vandalia wisely fouled and escaped with a win after East Alton-Wood River missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity.

Vandalia raced out to a 13-2 lead in the opening quarter, sinking six of its first seven shots. The Oilers turned things around in big way, however, embarking on a 24-4 run midway through the half that gave them a seemingly commanding 26-17 lead.

But the Vandals responded with an 8-0 run during the final two minutes of the half to pull within one point, 26-25, at intermission.

Marty Johnson then put Vandalia up for good, 30-29, with a layup off a perfect skip pass through the lane by Osorio with 3:13 to go in the third quarter.

The assist highlighted an outstanding all-around game by Osorio, who scored a team-high 15 points in addition to dishing out four assists and grabbing two steals. Johnson added 14 points, six rebounds and two assists. The duo teamed up to score all 10 points during the Vandals' decisive run. Osorio assisted on both of Johnson's buckets, while Johnson returned the favor on two of Osorio's three field goals during the run.

Despite the low score, the Vandals shot 58 percent from the field (21 of 38).

Box Score

EA-WR 12 14 9 6 - 41

Vandalia 15 10 13 6 - 44

Vandalia scoring - Osorio 7 1-2 15, Ma. Johnson 7 0-0 14, Norris 2 0-0 5, Bell 1 0-0 2, Bunker 2 0-1 2 Dugan 1 0-0 2, Hoffman 0 1-2 1, Riedle 1 0-0 2, Koonce 1 0-0 2. Totals 21-36 2-5 44. Record - Vandalia is 1-0.