Conant storms back to beat Schaumburg
Youth was at its best early and late for Conant's girls basketball team on Friday night at Schaumburg.
Cougars sophomore guard Asha Cobb started the game on fire and freshman teammate Aria Mazza's 2 free throws with 3.9 seconds left sealed the deal in a tense 42-38 comeback win in the Mid-Suburban West.
The victory evened the Cougars at 8-8 and 2-3 in the West while Schaumburg stands at 10-8 and 1-3.
Cobb accounted for all her team's points (2 3-pointers and a free throw) when the Cougars led 7-5 with under two minutes to go in the first quarter. She also had 2 steals and took 2 charges in the opening nine minutes.
However, the hosts led by as much as 32-21 late in the third quarter before Conant charged back, getting a big lift from senior Sam Locascio's back-to-back 3-pointers.
The first one tied the game at 34-34 with 5:07 left. The second made it 37-34 with 2:25 left.
"Sam (8 points) hit two huge shots," said Conant coach Todd Strauch. "She shot the ball real confidently. I thought we had great movement to get her open. I thought we did a good job of jump-stopping in the lane with two feet to kick it out to her, which we weren't doing earlier in the game."
Cobb finished as the Cougars' top scorer with 11 points while Mazza added 10.
"They are really great basketball players," Strauch said. "Asha is an awesome defender. She doesn't always get the recognition because of her size but she is just a smart, hardworking, talented player. And she shot the ball well and really got us off to that great start. You'll be really hard-pressed to not find her in the correct spot on defense and she plays with such energy. She flies around the court, offensively and defensively, and iust spreads everyone else out which is exactly what we want.
"Aria is a really talented freshman. She can really shoot the ball. Put the ball in her hands and let her make free throws."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomores Audrey Schluckbier and Madi Dolecki to start the second period gave Schaumburg a 14-9 lead. The Saxons led 21-15 at half, thanks to sophomore Symone Harrell's 6-footer from the baseline with 5.8 seconds left.
Emily Ytsen's 3-pointer got Conant to within 28-14 but Orozco's 3-pointer pushed the lead back to 30-20 with 4:17 left.
However the Cougars used a 10-0 run at the end of the third quarter to get within 32-31 heading into the final quarter. The big rally included 3-pointers from Mazza and Cobb, 2 free throws by Mazza and a fastbreak layup by Olivia Czarny with 7.5 seconds left.
"We worked really hard as a team," said Cobb, a two-year starter. "We came out with great energy and our all-around defensive and offensive effort was amazing tonight. We've been leading up to this. We've been practicing for this and working super hard."
Ytsen (4 points) had 3 big rebounds in the final five minutes.
"I thought we rebounded the basketball well and the girls turned up the defensive pressure which really helped us," Strauch added.
Schaumburg was led by Orozco (12 points), sophomore Grace Schluckbier (9) and Dolecki (6).
"When they hit those two 3-pointers, we had to play catch-up in a short amount of time," said Saxons coach Jacqie Strauch, the sister-in-law of Conant's coach. "I think we had some really good moments. Grace hit some solid 3-pointers and Alyssa always kind of does what she does. But it's disappointing we didn't listen to some of the things we planned, such as guarding the 3-point line.
"We're going to play them (Conant) again next Friday so we get a chance to redeem ourselves. We just couldn't keep that lead and that's disappointing. But kudos to Conant. They played their butts off. They played nice defense and they shot the ball well."