Hustling Palatine downs Conant

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/10/2021 11:19 PM

Two missed free throws, 2 offensive rebounds.

Palatine's boys basketball team executed the pair of hustle plays in the second half Friday night, punctuating its 45-37 defeat of host Conant in a Mid-Suburban League West game in Hoffman Estates.


Pirates senior forward Bobby Widlowski secured the first key offensive board at 5:19 of the third quarter, before whipping the ball to junior forward Tyler Swierczek, who then hit a 3-pointer to up the visitors' lead to 32-21.

Conant (5-3, 1-1) tallied the first 6 points of the fourth frame, cutting Palatine's game-long advantage to 38-35. But Palatine (6-2, 2-0) returned to its suffocating, dandy 'D', limiting Conant to 2 points -- a bucket by sophomore Camden Lathos (team-high 14 points) -- in the final 4:41.

Integral hustle play No. 2 unfolded as Pirates sophomore forward Connor May hit hardwood to grab a rebound, with too-many-to-count Cougars arms also vying for possession, following another missed freebie in the final quarter.

Palatine coach Eric Millstone alertly called a timeout at the 1:17 mark, with his crew leading 42-35.

"Any kind of hustle play is a good one, especially against a Matt Walsh-coached team like Conant," Millstone said. "We had to at least match his team's effort because his players like to battle hard, too."

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The middle quarters Friday night belonged to Pirates junior forward Grant Dersnah, who poured in a combined 16 of his game-high and varsity career-high 20 points in the second and third stanzas.

He hit a 3-pointer.

He sank 5 free throws.

He netted 4 field goals.

"Grant," Millstone said, "is a crafty player. Scores in a lot of ways. His basketball IQ is high, and he knows exactly how to use his long, lanky (6-4) frame to his advantage."

Time after time Dersnah (7 rebounds) found an open path in the paint and used his quick first step to create plenty of space for an easy basket.

"That's where Grant likes to work," said May, who had 11 points and 5 rebounds.

How Widlowski (6 rebounds, 3 steals) likes to play: like a basketball. The intense Pirate fearlessly bounced his 6-1 body to either pounce on a loose ball or keep a possession alive.


"Bobby," Dersnah said, "is everywhere."

"He's everywhere at once," May clarified on a December night.

Palatine never trailed. It led 11-8 after one quarter and 25-17 at the break.

Conant sophomore guard Yusuf Cisse (6 points) highlighted the Cougars' surge at the start of the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets, followed by a down-low field goal from Lathos.

"Our kids showed a lot of fight," Walsh said. "I'm really proud of our guys. We have a nice mix of seniors and young players, and they're all getting to know each other."

All 9 of Cougars senior Isaac Hanley's points came from 3-point territory; he also snared a team-high 5 rebounds.

Swierczek finished with 11 points and 5 boards for the Pirates, who have allowed only 57 points in two MSL West games.

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