Free throws help Conant down Schaumburg
It was a dogfight when host Conant met longtime rival Schaumburg Tuesday night in a Mid-Suburban West boys basketball tilt.
The visiting Saxons (13-11, 0-8) only trailed the Cougars 36-35 with 5:02 to play in this nip and tuck contest.
But with some great free throw shooting down the stretch, Conant (13-10, 4-4) was able to pull away for a 53-43 victory as Schaumburg was outscored 19-13 in the fourth quarter.
The Saxons got off to a great start with a 12-4 lead after one quarter, but the Cougars bounced back strongly to pull to within 20-19 at halftime.
Conant slowly began to establish itself in the third quarter by outscoring Schaumburg 15-10 as an impressive, off-balance 3-pointer by the Cougars' Isaac Hanley as the buzzer sounded to end the period gave the hosts a 34-30 lead.
Schaumburg's Leon Eberhardt hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to make the score 34-33. But that is as close as the Saxons would get as 2 free throws by Hanley (game-high 15 points) put Conant ahead 38-35 with 4:01 to play.
"I thought we battled hard. We had some very key kids foul out of the game and I thought other guys stepped in and fought," said Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler. "It was a very close game. They were tough and hit free throws. You know (Conant coach) Matt (Walsh) is like a mentor and one of my best friends so I'm happy for him and sad we lost, and we're going to get prepared for Fremd Friday."
Two free throws by Conant's Colin Francia (9 points) capped a 9-point run to give the Cougars their biggest lead at 45-35 with 1:57 to play as the hosts hit 17-for-20 from the foul line (85 percent) in the fourth quarter.
"It was a great Conant-Schaumburg game, and certainly no surprise to anyone who follows this rivalry," said Walsh. "I'm really proud of our guys, they stuck together and found a way to win. It was a total team effort, and we were able to get some stops."
Senior Michael Sheehy scored 13 points for Conant while teammate Yusuf Cisse had 9 points. Schaumburg was led by senior Fabian Baez with 12 points while teammates Nicholas Doroskin and DeJaunte Wilson scored 11 and 7 points respectively. Schaumburg's Najari Williams had a steal and dunk midway through the third quarter.
"We started off slowly, but we locked in on defense in the second half and that helped us pick up the W," said Hanley, whose team won the first meeting 45-33 at Schaumburg on Dec. 17.
"We started to hit our free throws at the end of the game and that helped."
The Saxons had six different players hit 3-pointers in the contest, but Wilson fouled out on an offensive foul with 6:01 to play.