St. Viator bounced back from its tough loss to Prospect on Friday to upend Conant 59-54 at the Joe Majkowski Varsity Thanksgiving Tournament Saturday in Arlington Heights.
"We made some progress," St. Viator coach Mike Howland said. "But we have a long way to go."
St. Viator (3-1) turned ups its defense in the fourth quarter, forcing Conant, which had just 3 turnovers to that point, to turn the ball over 5 times in the final period. That enabled St. Viator to pull away from a 45-44 lead.
"We thought our effort was solid for three quarters," Conant coach Tom McCormack said. "When you play a team like St. Viator, you really have to be careful with your mistakes."
The Lions forced two quick turnovers to start the final quarter and Ore Arogundade and Roosevelt Smart made the Cougars pay for them. Arogundade, who had trouble shaking Conant's D'Angelo McBride, got a screen and then drained a basket. Smart then rebounded a miss and sccored as the Lions opened up a 49-44 lead with 7:08 to play.
Conant (2-2) closed to 54-51 on a 3-pointer by Joe Ranallo (11 points) with 1:48 to play. But free throws by Sal Cannella, Pat McNamara and Arogundade down the stretch, kept the Cougars at bay.
"We had some guys step up," Howland said. "And that was good to see."
Besides Smart, who finished with a game-high 19 points, Howland thought the play of McNamara was key.
"I thought Pat carried us," Howland said. "Not just by knocking down shots, but making key plays."
McNamara, who finished with 17 points, made Conant pay for devoting so much attention to Smart and Arogundade. Three times in the first half, McNamara found himself wide open and drilled 3 point shots.
"I struggled (Friday)," McNamara said. "I just wanted to keep my confidence up and kept on shooting."
Conant, which last led 40-38 on a 3-pointer by Danny Sotos (11 points), also got strong performances from McBride, who had 9 points, and Mike Upchurch and Ryan Blaha, who both had 6 points.
"We did a lot of outstanding things in this game," McCormack said. "We are just learning to play with each other again."
Howland, who got 13 points and 11 rebounds from Arogundade and 5 points each from Canella and Tom Martin, is also eager to get his team back to practice.
"It was a better game than yesterday (Friday)," Howland said. "But we are not playing well yet. We got to get back to practice. Four games in a row -- I am ready."