Mittal, Conant dump Barrington
Conant's Raj Mittal picked the right night to have his best game of his career.
Barrington and the host Cougars needed a win to stay in the hunt in the Mid-Suburban League West division boys basketball race as the loser would have three losses and have a very slim division chance.
"Raj had not been feeling well all day," said Conant coach Jim Maley. "He was worried that we was going to struggle."
Mittal filled the stat sheet with a career-high 25 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 3 blocked shots all in the pivotal third quarter. The Cougars (8-9, 3-2), who were aided by Anthony Wachal's 15 points, defeated the Broncos 60-52 Friday night.
"My head hurt all day and I just wasn't able to focus on school work," said Mittal. "I said 'how am I going to be ready for the game where you have to make snap decisions?' When the game started it all seemed to go away."
The Broncos (12-6, 2-3) had a quick start and led 8-3 following Jason Boock's 4-point play with 5:26 left in the initial quarter.
Wachal's 3-pointer tied the game, which was followed by a Devon Ellis basket to give Conant a 12-10 lead with two minutes left in the quarter.
Mittal grabbed 5 rebounds in the quarter as Barrington shot 5 of 12 from the field.
An 11-2 run by Conant to start the second quarter gave the Cougars a 25-14 lead which led to a 30-22 halftime advantage. Mittal and Kaan Aygon each had 4 points in the run.
"I give a lot of credit to our bench players," said Mittal. "They came in and gave the other starters energy with their play."
Barrington chipped away to pull within 39-35 on a basket from Boock (19 points) with 6:45 left in the game. Aaron Sarker, who scored 8 of his 12 points in the fourth, helped Barrington keep it close.
Conant, though, opened the lead to 10 points at 47-37 and 53-43.
A final surge pulled the Broncos closed the gap to 53-49 with 1:39 left before Conant pulled away on free throws. Wachal hit 6 of 8 down the stretch and Ellis hit 1 of 2. For the game Conant hit 17 of 20 from the free throw line.
"We start and finish every practice by shooting free throws," said Wachal. "The football mentality helps when the game is on the line. Tonight our guys played hard."
"I didn't want to put any pressure on the players knowing we had to win this game to stay in the race," said Maley. "But I think they knew it. Wachal had a game for us. He knows how to play and get the job done."
Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said that Conant didn't do anything the Broncos didn't expect.
"We just couldn't stop their high-low plays," said Tucker. "We acted like it was a surprise to what they were doing. We didn't execute. We didn't deserve to win."