2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/30/2016 9:35 PM

Sotos, Conant take Tosh title at York

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  • Conant's Jimmy Sotos, left, and teammate Mike Downing, here chasing a loose ball in MSL West play against Fremd, helped lead the Cougars to York's Jack Tosh championship with a 49-35 victory over St. Patrick on Friday. Sotos was named tournament MVP, and Downing also made the all-tournament team.

      Conant's Jimmy Sotos, left, and teammate Mike Downing, here chasing a loose ball in MSL West play against Fremd, helped lead the Cougars to York's Jack Tosh championship with a 49-35 victory over St. Patrick on Friday. Sotos was named tournament MVP, and Downing also made the all-tournament team.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

One thing was for certain: Conant's boys basketball team was not going to get into a run-and-shoot contest with St. Patrick.

"We didn't want a high-tempo game with them," said Conant coach Tom McCormack.

And so it went.

The Cougars were able to dictate the terms of the game with solid defense and patient offense.

The result was a 49-35 win in the championship game of the 43rd annual Jack Tosh Tournament at York High School as Conant improved to 13-2.

"Our guys executed really well," said McCormack, who won his sixth championship as the Cougars' coach. "It was just a total team effort."

"We had to slow them up and get them to play our tempo," said tournament MVP Jimmy Sotos. "They play with a lot of emotion -- we had to take that away."

The Shamrocks (12-2) had trouble getting the ball in the basket -- especially early, as they shot 3-for-20 in the first half and scored just 10 points. St. Patrick had been averaging 78 points in its previous four tournament games.

The Cougars' Ryan Davis controlled the boards in the first half, grabbing 9 of his 13 rebounds.

"Inside I knew for us to win, I had to crush the boards and get as many rebounds as I could," said Davis, who also scored 11 points. "We had to control the lane to keep them from getting second-chance points. Even late in the game when I felt tired, I was able to find the next level of energy to keep going."

Michael Downing, a all-tournament selection, started the Cougars on the right track. He had a putback basket and nailed a 3. Downing assisted to Davis for 7-0 lead before Shamrocks coach Mike Bailey called a time out.

The Shamrocks played even the rest of the quarter and trailed 15-8.

Conant dug in on defense, allowing just 2 free throws while scoring 14 points to build a 29-10 lead going into halftime.

Sotos scored 5 of his 12 points and Downing added 4 of his team-high 15 in the second quarter.

The Shamrocks came out of the break a bit more aggressively and outscored Conant 13-8 in the third quarter.

All-Tournament selections Xavier Pinson (8 points) and Laurence Merritt (15) started to heat up near the end of the quarter, cutting the lead to 37-23.

Ben Schols' only basket, a 3, was followed by two Downing baskets as Conant built the lead to 44-23 with 6:00 left, and the Cougars coasted to the finish. Schols also added 5 assists.

"That was a huge play by Ben, and the two baskets by Mike," said Sotos. "We were getting a little tentative and that got us going. Coach told us the others had to contribute tonight. Danny Ranallo (6 assists) played a great floor game and played with emotion. He's a player that a lot of teams would love to have."

Downing was consistent throughout the tournament and knew what he had to do in the championship game.

"The coaches told me that I had to stay aggressive, stay at home and help protect the rim," said Downing. "I had to protect my area and not allow them to get second-chance points. I thought we did a good job with our contributions, both on offense and defense -- and making sure the ball was in the right hands at the right time."

"I think the job that Davis did tonight was key," said McCormack. "Teams can try to match up with our other players but it's hard to match up with Ryan. He's a player that does the intangibles and it's hard to stop him inside. I have to give credit to Mike Bailey -- he's a terrific coach. His team played well in the tournament.

"For us, this tournament helped us establish were we want to be as a team."

The same teams will match up again for a sequel Feb. 11 at St. Patrick.

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