Conant girls basketball coach Dan Travers believes playing in the competitive Mid-Suburban West prepares his team for games outside the league.
"Our conference schedule prepares us for our nonconference games," he said. "We just have to come out and play Cougar basketball."
Cougars basketball is always about defense.
"Our main goal is defense," said Cougars sophomore guard Sidney O'Keeffe. "That's what we focus on the most."
That focus sure surfaced in Saturday's nonconference game against visiting Lake Park.
The Cougars limited the Lancers to 1 field goal in the first quarter.
They were also focused on the basket from long range.
Conant's offense struck for eight 3-point baskets en route to a 53-28 victory.
Five points by junior Sarah Mazurek, a driving layup by O'Keeffe and a 3-pointer by sophomore Lexi Zades put Conant ahead 10-0 less than four minutes into the game.
After senior Tyshai Freeman's layup got Lake Park on the board, Conant freshman Nireet Dhillon hit a 3-pointer and sophomore Katie Lomas converted a bank shot for a 15-2 lead going into the second quarter.
Mazurek led the Cougars with 17 points, 3 3-pointers and 6 rebounds while junior Sarah Manczko added 8 points. O'Keeffe, junior Morgan Retzer (6) and Dhillon each chipped in 6 as the Cougars improved to 4-9 after falling to Schaumburg on Friday night.
"That was a tough game (Friday)," Lomas said. "We knew we had to come back strong today and start out well. We always want to keep out opponent under 40 points, and we did that."
Sophomore Haley Anderson and Dhillon each grabbed 5 rebounds for the Cougars while O'Keeffe also had a pair of steals to help spark the defense. Nine different Cougars scored, including sophomore DeeDee Durr and classmate Lilly Chavarria.
"Coming back strong after Friday night was our plan all along," O'Keeffe added. "We don't like losing so we really wanted to bounce back."
Lake Park also was trying to bounce back from a loss to Waubonsie Valley on Friday night.
The Lancers (0-13) were led by Freeman and sophomore Emily Duckhorn, who each scored 6 points. Senior Sam Cummings chipped in 5.
"They (Conant) are athletic and that got us out of synch defensively early in the game," said Lancers coach Andrea Miller. "And then it was hard playing catch-up."
O'Keeffe and Manczko hit back-to-back 3s to give Conant a 29-9 lead before the Lancers received a driving layup from Duckhorn and 2 free throw by freshman Jen Warfield in the final minute of the first half.
"We had a little run at the end of the first half," Miller said. "But we just struggled this game. Their athleticism got to us. We had a hard time holding on to the ball and playing stronger than them."