Conant's win over Schaumburg special for Cougars' coach Walsh
Conant boys basketball coach Matt Walsh admitted before Friday's game that he had some butterflies in his system.
After all, Walsh spent five years as the head boys basketball coach at Schaumburg. He was also an all-conference and all-area player for Conant.
Now, in his first year at his alma mater, Walsh's Cougars topped the host Saxons 45-33 in a Mid-Suburban West game. Conant (6-3, 2-1) stays in the hunt in the division. Schaumburg fell to 5-4 and 0-3.
"We knew that this game was special for coach Walsh and we had to get it done for him, " said Conant senior guard Isaac Hanley.
"Conant is home for me and I love it," said Walsh, a 1993 graduate. "But, Schaumburg is still a very special place for me."
The Cougars had a slow start to game and the second half but recovered quickly.
Schaumburg broke out to a 9-0 lead in the game's first three minutes. Conant righted the ship behind Hanley, who would lead his team with 18 points.
Michael Sheehy hit for a free throw and a 3-pointer to end the quarter with the Saxons leading 14-12.
Sophomore Camden Lathos scored 5 points in the second quarter to help give Conant a 22-17 halftime lead.
DeJaunte Wilson helped ignite a 6-0 Saxon run to start the third quarter with a basket, 2 free throws and an assist to Nicholas Doroskin (9 points, 5 rebounds) to give Schaumburg its last lead a 23-22.
"It wasn't so much that we made adjustments," said Walsh. "We started playing better. Schaumburg got off to a good start and we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. I'm proud of our guys how they responded to that adversity. We were able to string together some stops and play better defense."
From that point on it was all Conant.
Lathos, who would score 9 points and pull down 5 rebounds, connected on a 3-pointer for a 27-25 lead with 4:12 left in the third quarter. Hanley then hit 2 3-pointers, sandwiched in between 2 free throws, to help build a 35-27 lead after three quarters.
"Coach tells us to focus on what's next," said Hanley about the two Schaumburg runs. "We didn't want to look back at what had happened. We looked forward as to what we would do. We had a great game plan coming in and our teammates found the open man in good position. I think we've just begun to scratch the surface of how good we want to be."
Conant held safe in the fourth quarter by hitting on 10 of 17 free throws.
Sophomore Yusuf added 9 points for the Cougars.
Wilson (13 points) converted a 3-point play with 1:29 left to cut the lead to 41-33.
"Conant was tougher getting to those loose balls, " said Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler. "They shot well. I knew that they would play hard. We need to do a better job of staying consistent. That's the whole key."