Conant knocks off Wheeling for 10th win

 
By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/15/2022 10:14 PM

Saturday's area boys basketball schedule received a bonus game tossed into its lineup when Conant and Wheeling tipped off in a Mid-Suburban League crossover on the Wildcats' home floor.

The game originally scheduled to be played 11 days before was postponed due to the Cougars being in COVID-19 protocols.

 

Conant was seeking to bounce back after a tough MSL West road loss at Barrington Friday night against a Wheeling team that was coming off earning its first MSL East win against Elk Grove less than 24 hours earlier.

Conant would grab that momentum in the game's first period and took full utilization as it successfully moved past the host Wildcats 54-33 to earn its 10th win of the season.

The Cougars joined the Mid-Suburban West's other five teams to have reached the double-digit win plateau this season.

"I'm proud of our guys. We have a great group," Conant coach Matt Walsh said. "We have a great mix of seniors who are giving and providing great leadership. We are playing four sophomores, starting three tonight, that are learning what varsity basketball is all about. We had a great week of practice. I was really proud of our guys (Friday) night even though we didn't get the result we want. I'm proud of our effort tonight."

That winning effort got started courtesy of one of those sophomores in Center Camden Lathos, who scored the Cougars' first 10 points that were part of a 7-0 finish to the first quarter, one that saw senior forward Isaac Hanley's 3-pointer stake the Cougars to a 13-9 lead.

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After an Elijah Hutchinson 3 pulled the Wildcats within 21-16 with 4:57 left in the opening half, Conant (10-7) then began a decisive 12-0 tear that for all intents and purposes settled matters when sophomore Austin Potocnic drained a 3. Senior guard Colin Francia's scoop and score with 23 seconds left in the half had the Cougars ahead 33-16 at the break giving them enough of a cushion going into the remainder of the contest.

Wheeling (7-11) never got any closer than 20.

Lathos (24 points, 6 rebounds) paced all scorers followed by Hanley's 11. Aima Igiehon (9 points) led the Wildcats in the scoring column.

Hanley who finished with 3 3-pointers in Saturday's matinee spoke of his team's commitment to finishing the game

"We came out slow (Friday) night and we had to change that tonight," Hanley said. "Just having a great game plan going into the game and we're finding open shots and they're falling. We were having great success early on and just trying to keep that going."

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