It seemed like a long drought for Brooke Gunderson.
After dominating in the first quarter with 11 points in leading Barrington to a 17-4 lead over Conant, it was late in the game and the senior guard hadn't scored again.
And to make matters worse for the Fillies, the host Cougars had rallied all the back to tie the contest at 36 with just minutes remaining.
"We've had trouble closing teams out," said Gunderson. "It's occurred too many times, and this time we all said that it wasn't going to happen again."
The senior made sure it didn't, stepping up with the game on the line with a couple of late steals and buckets as Barrington eked out a 40-39 Mid-Suburban West win on Friday.
Gunderson tallied a game-high 15 points, while Dee Dee Durr led Conant with 9.
The first half was nothing to write home about for the Cougars, but the home team's final two quarters turned out to be a long love letter to perseverance and hustle.
"We wanted to come out and play our best," said Durr. "It didn't start out the way we wanted it to but once we settled in we were able to pick it up on defense. It was all due to change in attitude."
Barrington still held a comfortable lead at intermission but Conant, led by sophomore guard Nireet Dhillon (6 points, all in the third quarter) stormed back to grab a 35-34 advantage going into the final period.
And with scoring at a premium in the fourth quarter, a free throw from 6-2 Fillies sophomore forward Megan Talbot (7 points, 13 rebounds) tied the game.
Then a late steal and layup from Gunderson put the visitors up 38-36.
"We were trying to focus on limiting our turnovers," said Gunderson. "We had about 8 straight wasted possessions."
Another steal and bucket from the senior gave Barrington a 40-36 lead, but Conant rallied again at the foul line (2 free throws from Danielle Engelbreit, 1 by Sarah Mazurek) to come within 1.
The Cougars had a final chance at the end but a runner in traffic by Lexi Zades at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
"We did some good things tonight to come back from that deficit," said Dhillon, "but it wasn't enough. Our coach (Dan Travers) told us how proud he was of us , but we know we had chances to win and let it slip away. Now we've got to forget about this and just go out tomorrow (against Maine East ) and get a win."
Carrie Madden and Kelly Katis each scored 6 points for Barrington, while Katis added 5 steals.
Mazurek scored 6 points for Conant while Alissa Wachal pitched in with 5.
"This is a terrible feeling," said Durr, "but next time we'll come out even stronger."
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