Hinsdale South edges Conant

By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/15/2018 9:06 PM

Hinsdale South and Conant each entered Saturday evening's nonconference boys basketball matchup in Hoffman Estates having encountered similar fates the previous night as the Cougars dropped a Mid-Suburban League West game at Schaumburg while the Hornets endured a home loss to Downers Grove South in West Suburban Gold play.

It would be the visiting Hornets who would successfully respond to the task as they used a late surge to pull away from Conant in a 65-57 decision at Perry Gym.

"Our coaches put us through a walk-through this morning and it kind of reset our minds on this game," Hinsdale South's Billy Durkin said. "It picked us back up to where we could forget (Friday) night's loss."

South (4-6) would press the reset button on this tight back-and-forth affair during the game's final four minutes.

After an inside hoop by Conant sophomore Devon Ellis (11 points) pulled the home team within 51-49 with 4:40 remaining, the Hornets took control of a game in which neither squad had a lead bigger than 5 up to that point.

It began when juniors Jason Williams and Aaron Tims connected on an alley-oop with 3:50 to play. Fellow junior James Ruzicka hit a 3-pointer with 2:53 left to expand the lead to 56-49. He then connected on a free throw that began a 9 of 11 performance at the charity stripe over the final 1:27 that settled matters.

Durkin finished the scoring for the Hornets with 4 straight from the line which put the finishing touch on his game-high 22 that featured a 6 of 11 performance from beyond the arc.

Tims added 19 points along with 9 rebounds in the win.

"I was really pleased with how we were able to meet the challenge that Conant brought," Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore said. "Conant does a great job of mixing defenses and we were much better in reading them in the second half. Our guys were able to bring some needed energy to their game that allowed us to finish strong."

Conant (5-5) was led by seniors Anthony Wachal (16 points) and Raj Mittal (15 points).

"I thought we were a step slower on defense which allowed them to have some open shots outside as well as easy hoops inside which you can't have if you expect to win," Conant coach Jim Maley said.

Due to first semester finals South will have the luxury of a 10-day break before its next game versus Lemont at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York on Dec. 26.

"We need it after having played three games in a week especially after playing a couple of big rivalry games recently," Moore said.

The Cougars hope to host Fremd in an MSL West matchup Friday if a District 211 teachers' strike scheduled for Tuesday is averted.

"We talked about it with our captains, if it does go down, about alternative practice plans," Maley said. "You hope that it gets resolved."

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