Lake Park pulls away from Conant
If you took a peak at Conant's boys basketball team this season, you'll notice that it's a team that has only two seniors on its 14-man roster.
It's also a team that brings a lot of fight to its foes as it's 6-foot-5 junior swingman Devon Ellis said last week after a home Mid-Suburban West win over Hoffman Estates.
"We've had a lot of injuries and a lot of things going against our team," Ellis said. "We always push through it and one thing we're not going to do is give up."
On Tuesday night that young Cougar squad, led by Ellis, gave a 14-win veteran Lake Park team all it could handle for nearly three full quarters of play before the host school went on a decisive 10-2 run that paved the way to a 52-39 triumph in Roselle for its 15th win on the season.
"We made that run there," Lancers coach Billy Pitcher said of the final 3:39 of the third quarter that gave his team a 43-31 advantage heading into the fourth.
"We were trading baskets, then we got four in a row where we got some stops and scored and that was able to move it from 4 to 12."
Leading the way was senior floor general Montrell Perry for Lake Park (15-2). He scored 6 of his 9 points during that span including a buzzer-beater that bounced in off the back of the rim as time expired.
"Montrell was a key for us," Pitcher said. "We got some good looks in the middle and we're gonna hit (those) 50-60 percent of time and three or four went down like that."
Mastering the middle for the Lancers was 6-6 senior Trevor Montiel, whose game-high 26 points were accompanied by 7 rebounds. Fellow senior Luke Sgarbossa added 11 points in the win.
Montiel left the game with an appreciation of Conant's effort.
"As a whole I think we really enjoy playing people when they're playing their best because it's more exciting," Montiel said. "You'd rather enjoy playing good games than games where you're winning by 30 and where you're both playing good so it makes it exciting and that's what we like."
Both Pitcher and his Conant counterpart, Jim Maley IV, liked Ellis' 20-point, 6-rebound evening in which he played all 32 minutes.
"Ellis was just completely unstoppable. Sometimes we had two guys on him and he's got good body control, a soft touch and he's able to finish there like that," Pitcher said.
"He's developed in terms of his aggressiveness," Maley said. "He's one of those guys who's tough to stop when he gets on the open floor and gets downhill."
Maley also praised his team, which dropped to 3-13 on the season, on its performance in defeat.
"I told our guys I was proud of our effort," he said. "I thought we showed some leadership out there. They're a really good team. Hopefully, we'll learn from this over the course of time."