2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/11/2017 9:07 PM

Sotos surpasses 1,000 as Conant stings St. Pat

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  • Jimmy Sotos

    Jimmy Sotos

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Jimmy Sotos looked like he'd been in a war.

The Conant senior guard had cuts and scratches all over his hands, chest and arms after battling against host St. Patrick on Saturday.

Sotos left a lasting mark himself, though, by scoring 24 points to lead the Cougars' boys basketball team past the Shamrocks 57-53.

"It was rough out there," Sotos said. "But I knew I had to find a way to get things done for our team."

Sotos scored 15 of his points in the final quarter. During that span, a driving basket put him over 1,000 points for his career.

"I didn't know before the game how close I was," said Sotos, who now has 1,010 points in his four years as a varsity player and was preceded in the Conant program by three older brothers. "It really is a credit to all my teammates who helped me get me to this point.

"I also now have one-up on all my brothers."

Sotos scored 9 points in the first quarter. St. Patrick then managed to take him out of the game by pushing him away from the basket in an attempt to keep the ball out of his hands. Sotos was scoreless in quarters two and three.

But then he began to post up for the Cougars. That enabled his teammates to set some extra screens, and that got Sotos to the basket more.

"As the game goes on, you pick and choose your spots," Sotos said. "I knew I had to step up in the fourth quarter and I did. You have to find ways to affect the game and that's what I had to do."

Conant (22-4), which rolled past St. Pats 49-35 in the title game of the York Christmas tournament, found a different Shamrock team six weeks later. The Cougars trailed 28-24 at the half after turning the ball over 9 times in the first half.

"We came out strong, but we turned the ball over way too much at the end of the first half," Conant coach Tom McCormack said. "But we cleaned up the turnovers and ran just enough offense to pull it off at the end."

St. Pat (19-6) led 39-38 early in the fourth quarter, which is when the Bucknell-bound Sotos took over, scoring the next 8 points as Conant took a 46-39 lead with 4:05 to play. During that run, Sotos had a sweet driving layup with a floater over a Shamrock defender that put him over the 1,000-point mark.

St. Pats got the lead down to 4 on two occasion after that, but Sotos converted 4 fee throws and Ben Schols, who finished with 9 points, nailed 2 free throws.

Conant also got strong play from its big men. Both Mike Downing and Ryan Davis clogged the middle of the Cougars' 1-2-2 defense; both finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds.

"It was hard inside today," said Downing, who played Friday night, had early morning ACT testing on Saturday morning and then the game early in the afternoon. "It was a very tough environment. We knew it would be physical, but we were able to fight through it and get the W."

Conant's victory was also especially sweet for McCormack, who graduated from St. Patrick in 1970. McCormack, who is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year, most likely coached his last game against his alma mater.

"It is just a great environment here," McCormack said. "And it has been that way as long as I can remember it."

That environment and the style of play that St. Pats (19-6) exhibited, could pay huge dividends for Conant when the state playoffs begin in three weeks.

"This was a state tournament atmosphere," McCormack said, "This is the second time we played this team and we knew that they would be playing with a chip on their shoulder."

St. Patrick, which converted eight 3s, was led by Laurence Merritt, who had 4 of those triples to finish with 16 points, and Alton Thompson, who had 14 points.

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