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Conant quickly gets back on track
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/1/2012 7:55 PM

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After losing a tough 35-31 decision to Barrington on Friday night, it was a quick turnaround for Conant on Saturday afternoon.

But it didn’t prevent the Cougars from getting off to a quick start against St. Viator in the nonconference girls basketball game.

Conant raced out to a 19-5 lead and never looked back in a 46-28 victory at the Cahill Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.

A 16-footer and 3-pointer by Lions junior guard Erin Fabbri gave the hosts a 5-3 lead, but Conant answered with a 16-0 run to take control.

Junior Sarah Mazurek hit a 3-pointer and a rebound bank shot as part of the rally which set the tone for the Cougars, who limited Viator (4-3) to 3 field goals in the first 16 minutes.

“Defense helps us win games,” said Mazurek, who had the tough assignment on Fabbri (14 points). “When we are playing good defense, we are more successful.”

The young Cougars (2-6) also found success with balanced scoring led by sophomore Katie Lomas (9 points), Mazurek (7), and sophomores Haley Anderson, Sidney O’Keeffe and Alissa Wachal (6 apiece).

“We just weren’t ready to play, and give Conant credit,” said St. Viator coach Christina Jost, a former Buffalo Grove High School standout guard. “They (Conant) had a hard game the night before and came in ready to play. They are well-coached and fundamentally sound. The deserved the win today.”

The Lions deserved credit for the way they finished the game, scoring the same number of points (14) in the fourth quarter as they did in the first three combined.

Fabbri (5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist) scored 5 points to help St. Viator cut a 25-point deficit to 13 points midway through the fourth quarter.

“I can’t say enough about Erin,” Jost said. “She gives 120 percent every game. She has really stepped up into a leadership role and I see nothing but good things ahead in her career.”

Conant got a rebound layup by Mazurek and a layup by Wachal on a nice pass from O’Keeffe to thwart the rally and take a 42-25 lead with 2:24 left.

Wachal scored all 6 of her points in the second half.

“Alissa plays hard,” said Cougars coach Dan Travers. “She is helping us in the post and she’s playing with a foot injury.”

Mazurek and O’Keeffe each had 3-pointer for the Cougars, who also received 4 points from Lexi Zades.

“Katie Lomas and Sarah Mazurek really stepped up their games this weekend,” said Conant coach Dan Travers “Sarah is a rock. She had a great game guarding their best player (Fabbri).

“Haley Anderson came in and did a good job on the boards and Sydney O’Keeffe did a nice job defending the point. We’re getting good bench play. We’re just trying to get better.”

During the Lions’ 14-2 run late in the third quarter and at the start of the fourth, junior Didi Aburaad had a 3-pointer and sophomore Maddie McAteer hit 2 free throws.

“I thought our first half was ugly but I liked the way we didn’t give up in the second half,” Jost said. “We could have hung our heads and just rode out the third and fourth quarters but we made a little run instead of giving up.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board Monday and get ready for our games next week.”

Mazurek said the Barrington game motivated the Cougars.

“That gave us what we needed to win this one win,” she said. “We wanted to come out with a lot of intensity. We wanted to move the ball better and work as a team. We are a young (no seniors) and we have a lot of improving to do.”