Two of the better big men in the state squared off in St. Viator's Joe Majkowski Thanksgiving Tournament on Wednesday night in Arlington Heights.
Drew Peterson of Libertyville and Ryan Davis of Conant, both 6-foot-8 seniors, battled fiercely in the hotly contested matchup.
In the end it was Libertyville (1-1) holding on to a 59-56 overtime win against the now 1-1 Cougars.
Peterson scored 29 points and pulled down 8 rebounds -- and he scored all 8 of his team's points in the OT.
"Down the stretch I knew Conant had some players in foul trouble," said Peterson. "I wanted to work inside to see if I could get some fouls called."
The strategy worked as Peterson connected on 6 of 7 free throw attempts.
Davis, who scored 24 points and hauled down 16 rebounds, hit a 3 to give the Cougars the lead at 56-55 with 2:13 left in the overtime.
Peterson came back with a short jumper to give the Wildcats the lead back, for good this time, with 1:41 left at 57-56.
Conant made two costly turnovers in the final minute to seal its fate.
"We struggled with our offense in the second half," said Conant coach Jim Maley. "We're going to look back at this one and learn from this. I think had we won, we would not have learned much about ourselves."
Libertyville's ability to manage clutch possessions was key to the outcome.
"We were down 10 points (at 45-35) with about five minutes left in the game," said Libertyville coach Bryan Zyrkowski. "One of the big things we talked about was getting the 50-50 balls, and we were able to take advantage of it.
"I have to give Drew a lot of credit. He showed great leadership in the fourth quarter."
The Wildcats were going for the tie as regulation was winding down.
Peterson was the first option. When he drew a double team, Peterson found Josh Steinhouse (9 points) open on the left wing -- and he connected with a game-tying 3 to knot the score at 51 with 11 second left.
Ben Schols (13 points) missed a potential game-winning shot from the left corner as time expired.
"It's still early for us, getting used to a new system," said Davis. "Things are going to work out. We just need a little more experience."
Peterson and Davis both praise for one another.
"Davis is just a great player," said Peterson. "He just has great fundamentals. He knows how to play the game."
"Peterson is able to do a lot of things with his height, " said Davis. "He's got the mid-range jump shot, and he knows how to work the ball inside. He's a tough matchup for teams."