Schaumburg downs Conant to go 5-0
As the 97th regular season boys basketball meeting tipped off between archrivals Schaumburg and Conant Friday night, an interesting dichotomy served as a backdrop for the evening's action.
The host Saxons were coming off a 4-0 week during the Thanksgiving break in which they procured their first holiday tourney in 16 years by taking the title at Crystal Lake Central while the visiting Cougars experienced the complete opposite as they dropped four in a row at the St. Viator Thanksgiving Classic.
Adding to the drama was the fact that Conant would have to go on without head coach Jim Maley, who was sidelined due to illness and didn't make the trip leaving assistant coach Mick Trimarco, a 2008 Schaumburg grad, in charge.
Despite a pugnacious effort from Maley's squad, the Cougars took a 54-39 decision on the chin to the hosts in the Mid-Suburban West opener for both teams.
After back-to-back 3-pointers by Matt McColaugh and Daniel Hong evened things up at 23 with 5:22 left in the third, Schaumburg (5-0, 1-0) proceeded to go on a 14-4 run over the remainder of the period, taking a 37-27 advantage into the fourth. In that game-turning surge, a pair of dunks from Shamaree Brown and Chris Hodges, and an inside score by Brown off a Vaurice Patterson feed were the meat and potatoes of the run that started and ended with treys by Patterson and Arnav Karnik.
Despite the Saxons' expansion of the lead to 42-29 over the first couple of minutes of the final stanza, the Cougars (0-5, 0-1) made their final charge, pulling within 42-35 on a 6-0 tear before Brown's eighth hoop of the contest from an assist by Joe Sturino followed by Sturino's lone basket from beyond the arc left Schaumburg safely ahead 47-35 with 3:50 left. Conant would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
The 6-foot-3 Brown paved the way for the Saxons with a career-high 21 points and 6 rebounds followed by 10 points and 7 assists from Patterson.
Devon Ellis led Conant with 18 points followed by Hong with 11.
Brown's success was a byproduct of Conant's constant double-teaming of the 6-8 Hodges as the Cougars kept the Wisconsin commit to only 6 points on the evening, a point alluded to by Schaumburg assistant coach Peter McBride.
"Chris receiving double teams is nothing new to us so we feel like we have guys this year that can step in and make shots," McBride said. "That we have (scoring) threats around Chris from (both) a shooting and attacking the basket standpoint. We're really proud of Shamaree for stepping up."
Brown credits his work ethic for his improvement on the hardwood.
"My coaches told me that I had a big role to partake in this year and I've been in the gym working my skills, working my footwork, working everything I can," he said.
Schaumburg will have very little time to celebrate this win as it will open up Saturday's inaugural Crohn's & Colitis Shootout at Wheaton Warrenville South with a 1:30 p.m. tilt versus Huntley to begin the 5-game hoops marathon.
"It's certainly a quick turnaround," McBride said. "We're really excited to be a part of such a great shootout with some great teams in it."