The name in the program is Raymond Dennis. But Oswego East’s promising guard prefers Ray J, which makes sense. It’s a moniker almost as smooth as his shooting touch.
The junior scored 31 points to lead the Wolves to a 74-70 win against visiting Plainfield East. He was 6-for-8 from three-point range.
Dennis transferred to Oswego East this fall after playing on Montini’s varsity the past two seasons.
“He’s playing with some confidence,” Oswego East coach Ryan Velasquez said. “You can see the leadership coming out a little bit now, too. We want to see more of that down the stretch. He’s a hard worker. I think there is more to come than what you saw tonight.”
College coaches are starting to come around. Dennis picked up an offer from Northern Illinois this weekend and is receiving interest from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay, North Dakota State, Butler and Cleveland State.
The Wolves (18-7, 10-3 Southwest Prairie) led 52-51 after three quarters. Dennis scored eight points in a 14-0 burst to start the fourth quarter.
“We are starting to come together as a team in the last stretch of the season, so we have a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs,” Dennis said.
Plainfield East forced a few turnovers in the final minutes and made a late charge, but time ran out on the Bengals.
“I’m very proud of the effort and the way that we finished the game,” Velasquez said. “Sometimes we make it a little harder than it needs to be. Give credit to them, they play defense and sped us up.”
The Wolves have two other promising underclassmen, 6-7 sophomore Sam Schultz and 6-6 junior Kamron Battle, the son of former West Aurora and Illinois star Kenny Battle.
The young group has confidence.
“We are a basketball power now,” Schultz said. “It’s awesome. We think we can beat anyone. We grew up coming to games here and they would always lose. Now the younger kids come here and watch us win.”
Schultz can do almost everything on the court. He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
“He has really good vision for a big guy and he can handle the ball,” Velasques said. “He can play on the perimeter and down low. He’s going to get better. He’ll get bigger and stronger.”
“When I was younger I played point guard,” Schultz said. “Then the height came in and I knew I had to learn to play down low. Now it has all just clicked together.”
Both teams shot well from the perimeter. The Wolves were 12-for-20 from three-point range and Plainfield East was 13-for-30.
“We knew they had some shooters and some guys that we didn’t know about stepped up for them as well,” Velasquez said. “They are a little banged up so we didn’t see a couple guys. They are a good team, a real scrappy team.
Junior Yamani Shareef led the Bengals (16-11, 7-6) with 23 points, he was 5-for-9 from three. Junior Noah Woulard added 14 points and junior Kendall Carter scored 10.