2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/27/2017 10:21 PM

Mittal provides winning spark for Conant

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Conant boys basketball coach Jim Maley says Rajat Mittal is "officially back."

After Mittal's performance Wednesday, nobody's arguing.

Mittal, who missed significant time early in the season while recovering from a foot injury, poured in a game-high 17 points and added 7 rebounds as Conant defeated St. Patrick 61-48 in Jack Tosh Holiday Classic triumph at York High School in Elmhurst.

"He played really well tonight," Maley said of Mittal.

Mittal, who said it "took a little time to find myself," after coming back from the injury, gave most of the credit to his teammates.

"Tonight the whole team stepped up," he said, "and Ryan (Daivs), even though his shot wasn't falling, spread the ball around and found us all for open shots.

"This was a total team effort."

Davis, a 6-9 senior center/forward for Conant, added 9 points (with 7 in the fourth quarter) after scoring 35 in the Cougars' Tuesday victory over McHenry.

Anthony Wachal had 14 points (with four 3s) for Conant, while Ben Schols scored 8 points and Jonathan Kolev had 7.

Maley appreciated the all-around balanced scoring.

"I've been harping on the fact that other guys needed to step up," said Maley, "and they did that today. We can't count on Ryan to score 35 points for us every night.

"(St. Patrick) did a good job on (Davis) by taking some stuff away, but that left other guys open and they made them pay."

Conant (8-4) opened up an early 10-point lead with less than three minutes gone, and by the time Kolev hit a 3 midway through the second quarter, the Cougars led 30-11.

St. Patrick was able to make a slow and steady advance in the third quarter, closing the gap to 10 points. But a nifty tip-in of a missed 3 at the buzzer by Schols extended the Conant lead back to 47-35.

Three times in the final quarter, St. Patrick cut the advantage to 10 again but was never able to get the deficit under double-digits thanks to some sturdy Conant "D."

Great ball-movement and keep-away by the Cougars in the frontcourt helped stem any hopes of a Shamrock rally, and Davis put the icing on the cake with a dunk with 2:18 remaining.

Davis also had 7 boards for the Cougars while teammate Joe Arriaga finished with 6 points.

"All teams are going to make a run," said Maley of the Shamrocks cutting into the Conant lead in the second half, "but I thought our guys showed great mental toughness to withstand their run."

Conant advances to a 5 p.m. championship bracket quarterfinal matchup Thurdsay against the host Dukes, who advanced by handling Minooka 46-26.

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