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Article updated: 1/18/2014 8:58 PM
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Efficient victory for Conant
 

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Efficient victory for Conant
Bill Esbrook

As controlled and deliberate Conant was on offense Saturday night, that's how active they were on defense.

Senior guards Kevin Copher and Joseph Ranallo set the tone at Barrington, jumping into the passing lanes early for steals and coast-to-coast layups while junior Danny Sotos led the Cougars with 20 points on deadly accurate shooting in a 57-40 Mid-Suburban West road victory.

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So which is more important to Conant, offense or defense?

"It's always defense," said Ranallo. "That's what our coaches preach in practice, and we carry it over into games."

The Cougars' effort even impressed coach Tom McCormack.

"I thought we were very solid on defense," said McCormack, "and I have to give a lot of credit for that to (senior forward) D'Angelo McBride.

"D'Angelo actually played a great game on both ends of the court. He has a settling and calming influence on our team, and he did a great job on their number 25 (Barrington 6-foot-8 forward Rapolas Ivanauskas), who's a very skilled offensive player. D'Angelo even had to switch off his man from time to time tonight to to help out some guys who got beat."

Conant ran out to a quick early lead behing the first quarter effort of Copher, who had all 5 of his points in the stanza.

"We came in to this game trying to create some turnovers, and limit their transition offense," said Copher, "and I think for the most part we did that."

Conant (13-4, 4-1) led by as many as 13 in the first half, but a 3 from Barrington senior Zach Bart late in the second quarter helped the Broncos close the gap.

But the Cougars, led by three 3-pointers from Sotos, put the game out of reach in the third quarter and when Palmer Graham hit a runner with seconds left in the period, the visitors held a 42-24 advantage.

Barrington made one final run to start the fourth quarter and after a 3-point play by junior guard Luke Johnson and an offensive rebound and putback from Ivanauskas, the Broncos trailed only 44-30.

But Ranallo put a quick end to the comeback with another takeway and layup. He was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to give the momentum back to Conant.

Cougars Michael Upchurch and Kyle Bradley each contributed key final quarter buckets.

Ivanauskas and junior forward Chris Lester each scored 10 points for Barrington, while Ivanauskas added a game high 7 rebounds in a gritty effort and teammate Austin Madrzyk tallied 7 points.

Ranallo added 12 points for Conant, while McBride scored 6 to go along with 6 rebounds.

"I thought we were patient on the offensive end tonight as well," said McCormack. "We ran our offense fairly well, but we're a work in progress."

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