Conant boys basketball coach James Maley was a little worried about Saturday night's nonconference game against St. Patrick from Chicago.
Rest assured, seniors Ben Schols and Ryan Davis were not going to let their coach or the hometown crowd down.
The Cougars used a 12-0 run just into the second half to cruise to a 57-41 win over the Shamrocks.
Schols scored a season-high 23 points, which included going 5-of-6 on 3s. Davis added 14 points and 7 rebounds.
Conant improved to 14-5 while St. Patrick fell to 10-7 after starting the season 9-1.
The Cougars also beat the Shamrocks 61-48 in the second round of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York High School last month.
"Over the three years that I have played on the same court with Ben, he has really developed his 3-point shot and improved his defense," Davis said. "With his size he can post up inside when he's aggressive to the basket. When I'm doubled up inside, I know if I kick the ball out to him he can make the shot. He has the tools to be a successful player."
Schols and company started off quickly, opening a 16-4 lead following Davis' 3-point play with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
"When we came out with that energy," said Maley, "my worries were over."
The Shamrocks clawed back with some fine outside shooting from Dominic Galati (17 points) and Austin Freeman (11 points) to pull within 22-19 with 2:10 left in the first half.
Schols hit 2 free throws with :54 left and followed with a basket following Joe Arriaga's steal with :02 left for a 26-19 lead.
Conant's Raj Mittal (9 points) and Galati exchanged baskets to start the second quarter before the Cougars used the 12-0 run to open the game.
Davis began the run with an inside basket. Schols connected for a 3, Davis scored on an assist from Schols, and then Schols hit another 3 before stealing the inbound pass and scoring.
That spurt gave the Cougars a 40-22 lead with 3:37 left in the quarter, and St. Patrick could not recover.
Schols scored 11 of his points in the third quarter.
"In that run we really moved the ball well," said Schols. "My teammates set some really good screens not only in the quarter but throughout the game. We picked it up on defense and I thought that that was a key. When we play like we did in the second half we can really be good."
"I give a lot of credit to Arriaga for the screens he set, "said Maley. "That really helped Ben get open looks."
Schols, a three-year starter, is pleased with the way the season has gone for him.
"You can always want more from yourself as a player," said Scholz. "We're winning and that's a good thing. It's my role this year to be able to get to the basket. Jimmy Sotos (Bucknell) did that for us last year."
Maley has been impressed with Schols' play this year.
"He's been great for us," said Maley. "He does a little bit of everything. We give him the green light to shoot and to be aggressive with his offense. He's so coachable."