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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Michael O'Brien

‘This is what I’ve been waiting on’; Curie responds to Mike Oliver’s call-out, beats Oswego East

Curie’s Chikasi Ofoma (23) dunks in the second half against Oswego East. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

Curie coach Mike Oliver was embarrassed by his team’s performance at his shootout last weekend. The Condors lost to Mount Carmel by 15 points and Oliver lit his players up after the game, publicly questioning their toughness and claiming his team didn’t have a leader.

“No one likes to read that in the newspaper,” Oliver smiled and said after his team responded to the drubbing by knocking off No. 19 Oswego East 65-52 at Triton in River Grove on Saturday.

The No. 12 Condors started hot, draining five three-pointers in the first quarter to build a 25-10 lead.

“He’s the kind of coach that says exactly what he feels and I agree with what he was saying,” Curie’s Jeremy Harrington said. “Before games we would be joking around in the locker room. Today we were all serious. All business. We knew we had to come out and start with a lot of energy.”

The Condors expanded their lead to 21 points in the third quarter. Oswego East (10-2) charged back late, pulling to within seven points on a three from Ryan Johnson with 1:48 left but that was as close as it would get.

Both teams were without their point guards. Curie junior Carlos Harris was out sick and Oswego East senior Bryce Shoto twisted his ankle at the end of a win against Plainfield North on Friday.

“Carlos is a big piece of our team so we knew everybody had to step up,” Barrett said. “We really showed our camaraderie to come together after [Oliver] called us out and we played without Carlos.”

Harrington, Kros Barrett and Chikasi Ofoma each scored 15 points for the Condors (8-3) and Mason Minor added eight points.

“This is what I thought we would look like at the beginning of the year,” Oliver said. “We are deep. I wasn’t surprised. This is what I’ve been waiting on.”

Harrington, a 6-5 senior, has been one of the most productive players in the Public League for several seasons. He’s an unorthodox player, capable of shooting from three and playing in the post. It creates major matchup problems for opponents, but college coaches have yet to offer him a scholarship. He’s received some interest from Division 3 schools.

“I definitely have a chip on my shoulder,” Harrington said. “I’m just going to go out and prove every game that I’m one of the best seniors in Illinois. I’ll show the college coaches that I deserve those offers. I really don’t know what the coaches don’t like about me.”

Oswego East’s Mekhi Lowery controls the ball as the Wolves play Curie. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

Towson recruit Mekhi Lowery stepped in and handled the ball in place of Shoto and also dominated in the post. The 6-7 senior was everywhere, finishing with 13 points, 20 rebounds and four assists for the Wolves.

Johnson scored 20 and senior Tyler Jasek added nine points for Oswego East.

“This is a learning opportunity for us,” Wolves coach Ryan Velasquez said. “That’s a good team and it was a physical game. We didn’t play our best in the first half but a bunch of guys responded in the second half.”

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