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"This is 40" is not just popular new movie. If you're lucky, it's about what you can expect to score against Conant.
The Cougars continued their midseason assertive defensive statement Friday night in a tightly wound 46-41 Mid-Suburban West win at Schaumburg.
And make no mistake, they did it with defense. Schaumburg only had 14 field goals and committed as many turnovers. Saxons deadeye shooter Kyle Bolger didn't score until midway through the third quarter, courtesy primarily of D'Angelo McBride's defensive effort.
And Conant delivered clutch shooting of its own in the fourth quarter, especially from point guard Joey Ranallo (12 points) and forward Kevin Schimel (10), who each had a 3-pointer in the frame and combined for 12 of Conant's 15 fourth-quarter points. Schimel's 3 gave Conant the lead for good at 36-35. Ranallo followed with his out of the left corner on the next possession in Conant's unselfish, share-the-ball offense.
And while Ranallo said he does "like the ball" in those clutch situations, he also has confidence in "everyone who has the ball" down the stretch.
Conant needed every clutch shot down the stretch. The game was otherwise tied after every quarter break, each team answering the other's offensive spurts and neither building a lead bigger than 6.
"We didn't do a good job of executing," said Ranallo, crediting Schaumburg's defense. But, when needed, "We found points."
"It was a test," said Conant coach Tom McCormack after his team's fifth straight win to move to 6-4 overall and 2-2 in the division. "It was like two heavyweights going at each other."
"The credit goes to Conant," said Schaumburg (4-5, 2-2) coach Matt Walsh. "They made the plays. They came in with a really focused, determined mindset."
It didn't appear that way after Jimmy Lundquist opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers for the Saxons, but it was toe-to-toe after that. Robert Hudson carried Conant, missing only two shots all night and looking slick around the basket en route to a game-high 14 points until Ranallo and Schimel stepped up in the fourth.
And everybody played defense — especially McBride.
"That's what he's meant to us," McCormack said after his junior forward's 1-point output was far overshadowed by his bothersome defensive effort on Bolger, who got only 1 shot attempt in the first half before finishing with 10 points.
"D'Angelo always has the toughest assignment," said Ranallo. "You've got to love his defense."