It's all about defense with the Conant girls basketball team.
After leading her team with 13 points in a 58-35 nonconference victory at Lake Park on Saturday night, Cougars senior Sarah Mazurek only wanted to talk about defense.
"We feel if we can keep our opponents under 40 points, we have a great chance to win" said the 5-foot-9 forward, who also had 4 rebounds.
"We like to emphasize defense, especially in practice," said Cougars 5-10 junior forward Alissa Wachal, whose team is one of only two to hold state power Fremd under 60 points this season. "We always want to come out strong defensively. You win games with defense, not offense."
With the defense doing its job early, holding Lake Park to 3 points in the first 6:30 of the game, the offense took care of things in a span of two minutes.
With the score tied at 3-3, the Cougars received back-to-back 3-pointers from Nireet Dhillon, a 2-pointer by Lexi Zades and a short bank shot by Dee Durr for 11 unanswered points and a 14-3 lead.
Lake Park never got closer than 6 points the rest of the way.
"They're tough," said Lancers coach Brian Rupp of the Cougars who improved to 7-5. "They're always a tough game for us but that is no excuse for the way we played."
Also reaching double figures for Conant was Dhillon, who had 11 points (three 3-pointers).
Wachal added 8 points, including 3 field goals in the third quarter when the Cougars outscored the Lancers 18-5.
Dee Dee Durr (7 rebounds) and Zades (2 rebounds) each added 6 points while freshman Jorri Wachal had 5 points with a rebound.
The Cougars' offense also received points from Brianna Murphy (2 rebounds), Morgan Retzer and Kim Zaucha.
"They (Conant) are really balanced," Rupp added "They have a lot of people who can score. We had no answer for them.
"At the start of the season I thought we'd probably be a good defensive team. But we still have a lot of work to do there."
Katie Lomas also worked hard on the boards for Conant, grabbing 6 rebounds and scoring a bucket in the second quarter which extended Conant's lead to 23-14.
The 5-foot-10 junior also handed out some nice passes for an assist on a Zades' 3-pointer from the corner and layup by Alyssa Wachal.
Lancers freshman Jakeiya Morgan scored 6 of her team-high 8 points in the first half while junior Emily Duckhorn added 7 points, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
"We're glad we are playing tough teams," said Rupp, who Lancers (3-7) will head to the Mundelein tournament which also includes Conant. "Five of our losses are to tough teams. We welcome the challenges because we've got to learn."
The Cougars are learning to play defense from coach Dan Travers and assistant Ron Theberge.
"The girls are really working hard on defense," Travers said. "Ron (Theberge) has really helped with our man-to-man defense. He's helped us take it to another level."