Conant falls to Glenbrook South
Glenbrook South's boys basketball team is looking for a sectional championship this year.
Conant will be looking for one next year.
The Titans, the No. 2 seed in the Class 4A Elk Grove sectional, got a battle from 15th-seeded Conant Tuesday night at the Maine West regional but prevailed 67-48 and will play host Maine West for the regional title Friday night.
Conant, playing only one senior, hopes to be gunning for a sectional title next year after fielding one of the youngest lineups in the Mid-Suburban League all season and finishing a somewhat painful but competitive 7-23.
The Titans (28-4) showed their strength in their balanced, all-around game, getting 30 points inside from slippery forward Dom Martinelli, who consistently snaked his way to offensive rebounds and putbacks, including one in the second quarter that solidified a double-digit lead for good. His 9-of-10 free throw shooting left him with 271 for the season, 17 short of the state record, according to Glenbrook South stats.
Until Martinelli's and-one though, Conant stayed in the game on junior Devon Ellis' almost unstoppable play around the basket. His save and heave at the second-quarter buzzer made it 30-20 and still something of a game at halftime.
Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said he expected it from the Cougars, who his Titans routed two weeks ago.
"That's what happens in the state tournament. You're fighting for your life," he said in praise of the Cougars.
But the outmanned foul-plagued Conant couldn't stay with the Titans on the boards nor cover their inside-out game no matter how fast their sticky 2-3 zone adjusted to Glenbrook South's rapid ball movement.
On those occasions when they kept Martinelli in check, sophomore guard Cooper Noard showed off his touch. His six 3-pointers all felt like daggers after Conant had otherwise dug in on defense on so many possessions.
"We did a lot of the things we wanted to do," said Conant coach Jim Maley. "They're a good team. We played them tougher than we did last time."
Ellis agreed. "We came out and gave it all we had," said the high-scoring junior (24 points), who is already excited about next year, when the entire roster returns except for two graduating seniors.
"We didn't throw in the towel. We'll be ready next year," he said, and underclass, sharpshooting teammates like Ajani Cobb, Sean Beckman and Daniel Hong, who all contributed 3-pointers, showed why he just may be right.
He already knows what he has to do to improve. "My leadership, and I've got to work on my jump shot. We're going to be a lot better."