All week, Conant's D'Angelo McBride had been practicing defense in anticipation of guarding Fremd leading score Riley Glassmann.
"All I was trying to do was keep the ball out of his hands," McBride said. "We worked on it all week in practice. I just wanted to make sure he wouldn't get that many touches."
McBride then put his practice to work Friday in Palatine, limiting Glassmann to just 11 shots which netted the Fremd junior 2 field goals and 7 points. McBride's defense along with that of Kevin Schimel, Joey Ranallo and Robert Hudson, helped lead Conant to a 43-34 victory over Fremd.
The win kept the Cougars (4-5, 1-2) from falling out of the MSL West race just three conference games into the season.
"I thought it was beautiful," Conant coach Tom McCormack said. "You had two teams that are defensively-oriented going against each other. We knew that scoring 40 points would be tough for either team."
Neither team was even close to being on track for that at the half, as they combined to shoot 33 percent from the field and turn the ball over 17 times. Conant led 16-14 at the break.
"We love to play defense," said Schimel, who drew Fremd's Ben Carlson and held him to 4 points. "We work hard on it all the time."
It was 21-19 late in the third quarter when Conant threatened to pull away. The Cougars went on an 8-1 run to lead 29-20 with 5:41 to play on a free throw by McBride.
Fremd (7-3, 2-1) closed to 33-30 on a trey from Sean Benka (15 points) off of a kick-out pass from Glassmann. The Vikings had two chances to pull the game even closer, but were called for a pair of offensive fouls, including a charge that McBride drew from Glassmann with just over two minutes to play.
"I thought when we got to 33-30 we gave ourselves a chance to execute," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "Things started out slowly for us, but our defense kept us in the game."
Hudson's reverse layup with 1:52 to play ignited a 7-0 run by the Cougars. But 12-for-22 free throw shooting by Conant in the final quarter prevented the Cougars from truly icing it until the final 30 seconds.
"Our free throw shooting was the only thing I was disappointed in tonight," said McCormack, whose team had been making a habit of leading or being tied heading into the fourth quarter, but had consistent issues with finishing. "I was sitting on the bench worrying about that. Sometimes things like this become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the boys fought through it tonight and hopefully we can go on a run from here."
Ranallo led the Cougars with 11 points, while McBride added 8 and Hudson chipped in 7 points.