Boys basketball: Noah Mason, Oswego East avenge earlier loss to West Aurora – in a big way

Mason scores 17 points, Wolves roll to 65-44 win to pull ahead in SPC West race

Oswego East's Noah Mason (10) shoots the ball over West Aurora's Jayvyn Marion (3) during a basketball game at Oswego High School on Friday, Feb 2, 2024.

OSWEGO – Noah Mason and the rest of Oswego East’s seniors came out in red and white T-shirts for Senior Night festivities Friday. It seemed an unusual color choice given the school’s blue and silver colors, but fit the Wolves’ mood.

They were seeing red.

West Aurora beat Oswego East handily in December, in doing so snapping the Wolves’ 34-game Southwest Prairie Conference winning streak. Oswego East, conference champs for five years running, needed to return the favor Friday to keep that streak going. The Wolves indeed played with a vengeance.

The red-haired Mason led three Wolves scoring in double figures with 17 points, and led a dominant effort on the glass with eight rebounds. Oswego East scored the game’s first seven points and never trailed in a 65-44 win to pull a half-game ahead of West Aurora in the Southwest Prairie West race.

Wyoming recruit Jehvion Starwood added 13 points and six rebounds and Braydon Murphy had 10 points for Oswego East (18-9, 10-3), which led 29-16 at halftime and by as many as 25 points in the second half. Starwood’s acrobatic reverse layup in transition highlighted the 9-0 run to open up that 48-23 lead, as the Wolves won for the second time in three total meetings with the Blackhawks this season.

“We were excited,” Mason said. “We just wanted to apply pressure and prove that we were the better team after that hard loss we had.”

Mason, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, showcased different facets of his game at various junctures Friday to set the tone.

He had two of Oswego East’s five offensive rebounds in the first quarter, and threw down a dunk in transition to cap an 11-1 start. Mason had three assists in the third quarter, setting up back-to-back 3-pointers by Andrew Pohlman and Andrew Wiggins. And then Mason knocked down two of his own shots from beyond the arc.

“I’m trying to provide any type of energy, to be honest, to get my team fired up,” said Mason, who is playing collegiately at Benedictine University. “This game was huge. We’ve won five [conference titles] in a row. We don’t want to be the ones to end that streak. This was probably our most important game of the year, so we came out with a lot of energy and played well.”

Oswego East's Noah Mason (10) steals the ball from West Aurora's Jayvyn Marion (3) during a basketball game at Oswego High School on Friday, Feb 2, 2024.

Oswego East coach Ryan Velasquez wasn’t surprised to see that kind of effort from Mason. Mason didn’t see the floor at all as a junior on Oswego East’s sectional championship team, but Velasquez said had he a fantastic summer. He’s emerged as the Wolves’ second-leading scorer behind Starwood, with 22 points against Romeoville.

“Junior year he was a guy that pushed us every single day in practice,” Velasquez said. “We talked to Noah and told him we see growth in you and he’s been able to show that growth. His best basketball is ahead of him. I wish he had games like that every night.”

West Aurora (16-9, 9-3), on the flip side, would prefer to turn the page on Friday.

The Blackhawks missed their first seven shots, and standout junior Terrence Smith sat a significant chunk of the first half with two fouls. West Aurora was able to get to the free-throw line early, but even that didn’t go well as the Blackhawks were 5 of 13 in the first half. And Oswego East nearly doubled up West Aurora on the glass.

Jordan Brooks scored 15 points and CJ Savage had 11 for the Blackhawks.

“They just manhandled us down there around the basket, especially in the first half,” West Aurora coach Mike Fowler said. “That was a point of emphasis we put on the board, that if you go in there, and they’re more physical than you, we’re going to be in for a long night. To compound with how they shot the ball from the 3-point arc, it wasn’t pretty for us.”

Oswego East's Jehvion Starwood (22) drives to the basket against West Aurora's Gabriel Gonzales (24) and Jayvyn Marion (3) during a basketball game at Oswego High School on Friday, Feb 2, 2024.

While Oswego East made four 3-pointers in the second half, West Aurora shot just 1 for 9 from beyond the arc in the first half against a Wolves’ defense that showed 1-3-1, 2-3 and man.

“We wanted to keep them on their toes,” Mason said. “They can shoot, but they’re not the best shooting team. If they’re taking shots and not making them, we’re going to let them keep taking them.”

“We talked about that we have to play aggressive and not settle, and we played right into their hands,” Fowler said. “We let our offense dictate how we were going to play on defense. We weren’t making shots and we let them do whatever they want to do.”

Velasquez claimed to be unaware of Oswego East’s conference streak, but didn’t deny the meaning of Friday’s game.

“We knew there was a lot of value to this game – conference game, sectional opponent, seeds come out next week,” Velasquez said. “I know we play a lot of nonconference games, those are fun. These mean more.”