Palatine's big comeback beats Conant
It was a true tale of two halves in Palatine Thursday.
Conant easily won the first one. But it was Palatine that made the big finish as the Pirates rallied from a 16-point deficit to upend the Cougars 48-43 in a Mid-Suburban West boys basketball game.
The win kept Palatine (17-7, 6-1) in first place in the MSL West, one game ahead of Barrington, which beat Schaumburg 55-22.
"Those guys have been playing really well," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "We knew what they were going to bring and they sure brought it in the first half. Credit to our guys for taking a stand in the second half."
It was Camden Lathos (22 points) who got the Cougars (12-10, 3-4) off to a fast start.
The sophomore scored his team's first 10 points. He continued his hot hand later in the quarter, drilling a 3-pointer as Conant led 16-7 after the first quarter.
Lathos' hot hand was contagious to his Conant teammates. The Cougars converted 4-of-5 from the field to open the second quarter with Yusuf Cisse (8 points) dropping in a pair of 3-pointers as Conant grabbed a 26-13 advantage.
Conant would later increase its lead to 31-15 on a 3-pointer by Colin Francia. Palatine got a late basket to cut the lead to 31-17 at the half.
That basket foreshadowed what was to come in the second half.
"We just came out in the second half and played tougher," said Palatine's Grant Dersnah, who came off the bench to scored 14 points, 10 of which were in the second half.
"It was something we had done all season and we didn't do in the first half. It just built on. Stop, score, stop, score, and then we were back in the game."
The Pirates used their length and their trapping press to open the half with 4 quick points. They would go on to force 8 turnovers in the quarter and limit Conant to 2-of-7 from the field.
"The kids knew the way we played the first half was not indicative of how we have been playing this year," Millstone said. "That was the first time we have been punched in mouth at halftime. We came out and had something to say about it in the second half."
After a basket by Lathos made it 33-21, Palatine responded with 9 unanswered points on its way to a 13-1 run and a tie at 34 on a basket by Connor May (19 points).
"When I'm hot, they are feeding me the ball," said May, who struggled to convert some close shots in the first half. "And when I'm not, that's when I am feeding them the ball."
Conant was able to regain the lead at 41-40 on a 3-pointer by Leonard Ahmeti (6 points) with 4:58 to play.
But Palatine took complete control from there, using the size of May, Dersnah and Tyler Swierczak (11 points) to put the game away.
"We obviously played a real good first half," Conant coach Matt Walsh said. "You kind of sensed just before the end of the half that they turned up the pressure. They were very aggressive and very physical and we didn't match that."