After three straight losses in the Mid-Suburban West, Barrington boys basketball coach Bryan Tucker challenged his team to fight through what he called "the dog days of the season."
The Broncos responded to that challenge with one of their most impressive performances to date, leading by as many as 21 points in dismantling Conant 47-32 in the Mid-Suburban West contest Friday night.
It took Barrington nearly five minutes to score, but once they did, the Broncos didn't stop until the game was well in hand.
The Broncos (13-10, 4-4) hit 5 first half 3-pointers, three of which came from junior Austin Madrzyk (11 points), and shot 50 percent from the floor while holding the Cougars (12-10, 4-4) to 31 percent shooting.
"We had a good week of practice and we knew we had to get off to a good start," Madrzyk said. "We talked about how we can't look back and change the past. We have to look forward and make a strong run for the playoffs."
Madrzyk canned 2 3-pointers in the final minute of the first quarter, including one that just beat the first quarter buzzer.
Brad Zaumseil got into the action from deep in the second quarter and Vinnie Tuzil's triple helped the Broncos go into halftime ahead 25-14.
"They were clearly trying to sag in and giving us comfortable looks," Tucker said. "Our kids did a nice job of being patient and not just making one pass and jacking up 3s. We knocked down some shots, and it was contagious."
Scott Nelson's 3-pointer at the beginning of the third quarter set off a 14-3 spurt as Zach Bart scored 4 of his 10 points.
Trailing 39-18, Conant's Kevin Schimel scored 7 of his 11 points to close out the quarter, but the Cougars committed 4 of their 16 turnovers in the third and dug themselves too big a hole.
"We were up pressuring them, making them uncomfortable," Zaumseil said. "We were up in the passing lanes and trying to use that to get run-outs on offense."
"We haven't played that way all season," said Conant coach Tom McCormack. "This was far and away the worst game we've played all year long. Credit to Barrington for the way that they played."
Zaumseil, who finished with a game-high 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, opened the fourth quarter with a pullup jumper and a drive to the hoop to bump the lead back to 20 and effectively kill any chance of a comeback.
Ryan Blaha added 10 points for Conant, which went just 1-for-14 from beyond the arc and didn't score in the fourth quarter until Josh Copher's free throw with 1:14 remaining.
"That (offense) shouldn't overshadow the defensive effort we had tonight," Tucker said. "We did a nice job defending from start to finish."
"Every game we've played this year has been close," Zaumseil said. "It's nice to get an easy one."