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Article updated: 3/2/2011 11:17 PM
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St. Patrick gets defensive at Conant
 

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St. Patrick gets defensive at Conant
  • Conant's George Pessimisis, right, tries to get St. Patrick's Elijah Watson to go for a fake during Wednesday's game.

    Purchase Photo | Conant's George Pessimisis, right, tries to get St. Patrick's Elijah Watson to go for a fake during Wednesday's game. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  •  Conant's Brian Wadsworth, right, makes a strong move to the basket against St. Patrick's Royale Ewing.

    Purchase Photo | Conant's Brian Wadsworth, right, makes a strong move to the basket against St. Patrick's Royale Ewing. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  •  Conant's London Dokubo grabs St. Patrick's Jacob Williams by the arm as they dive to the floor for a loose ball during Wednesday's regional semifinal.

    Purchase Photo | Conant's London Dokubo grabs St. Patrick's Jacob Williams by the arm as they dive to the floor for a loose ball during Wednesday's regional semifinal. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  •  Conant's Tim Manczko, left, tries to take the ball from St. Patrick's Dan Caplis Wednesday.

    Purchase Photo | Conant's Tim Manczko, left, tries to take the ball from St. Patrick's Dan Caplis Wednesday. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  •  Conant coach Tom McCormack leads his team during Wednesday's regional against St. Patrick.

    Purchase Photo | Conant coach Tom McCormack leads his team during Wednesday's regional against St. Patrick. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Greg Swiderski

Defense was the theme as Conant hosted St. Patrick in a Class 4A regional semifinal Wednesday night.

"It was just two teams that played really tough defense," said Cougars coach Tom McCormack, a St. Patrick alumnus. "The rebounding difference St. Pat's had (32-14) ultimately was the difference in the game."

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The Shamrocks used that advantage to secure a 41-29 win and set up Friday night's regional final against East Suburban Catholic Conference foe Notre Dame.

Sophomore guard Elijah Watson scored 6 of his 8 points in the fourth quarter and also grabbed 4 of his 8 rebounds in the final period. Kortney Darby and Royale Ewing led St. Patrick, now 15-11 and winners of four in a row, with 11 points. Darby had 8 rebounds and Ewing finished with 5 boards.

"To win tonight," said Watson, "we had to deny (London) Dokubo and (Dylan) Bartuch the ball. I knew down the stretch that we had to control the boards. Early in the year I had doubts, but I've gained confidence as the season has gone on."

The Cougars (17-11) never led in the contest but came close several times. Conant shot just 24 percent, connecting on 8 of 24 shots. Their defense, though, kept them in the game.

Conant closed to 28-25 with 4:53 left in the game when Sean Bourke hit a 3-point basket. Darby countered with an offensive putback before Dokubo scored on a reverse layup to make the score 30-27 with 3:50 left.

Darby made 2 free throws and Ewing scored a basket before Dokubo hit 2 of 3 free throws for Conant's final points with 1:41 left, making the score 34-29.

The Shamrocks then hit 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the win. St. Patrick hit on 13 of 30 field-goal attempts (43 percent).

"We played well off the glass," said St. Patrick coach Mike Bailey. "Ever since our second loss to Benet, we've been playing with a lot more toughness. The key tonight was keeping (Avery) Osby out of the middle and limiting the touches for Bartuch."

"We had a chance to tie the game after we pulled to within 28-25, but a 3-pointer from the corner missed," said McCormack. "I felt we defended the inside well, but again their rebounding was the difference."

Bartuch led Conant with 9 points and George Pessimisis came off the bench to score 6 points.

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