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Young Conant team leading by committee
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/28/2012 7:31 PM

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You won’t find any seniors on the Conant girls basketball roster.

“We have no seniors but we have leaders,” said sophomore sharpshooter Lexi Zades. “We always encourage each other as if we are all seniors.”

The Cougars have sure looked like a veteran group this week at the Mundelein Mustangs Holiday Classic Tournament.

After an upset over Huntley on Wednesday and double-overtime loss to highly regarded Streamwood on Thursday, the Cougars notched another win Friday by posting a 41-26 triumph over Prairie Ridge.

Sophomore Haley Anderson’s 17-footer that just beat the buzzer gave the Cougars a 16-6 lead after one quarter and they never looked back.

Zades’ 3-pointer with 2:07 left in the first quarter helped ignite a 10-2 run to close out the quarter.

“We have a lot of good shooters,” said Zades (7 points) who had a pair of 3-pointers as did teammate Sidney O’Keeffe (8 points). “Coach (Dan Travers) encourages us to shoot the 3s so we’ll take them if we are open.”

A 3-pointer by O’Keeffe extended the Cougars lead to 23-8 with 3:23 left in the second quarter and neither team scored the rest of the first half.

“Sidney’s hustle was endless,” Travers said. “She defended the point well and she knocked down some big 3s which helped us keep the momentum. She has really progressed as a player. Other teams always have to be aware of her.”

Wolves coach Rob Baker, who was missing his top scorer Sarah LeBeau (soccer tournament) and floor leader Brianna Fenton (injury the day before), watched his team get to within 32-24 when Kelly Klendworth hit a 3-pointer with 4:44 left in the final quarter.

But that’s as close as the Wolves got as Anderson (11 points, 8 rebounds) answered with some big free throws.

Junior Sarah Mazurek (5 points, 4 assists) drove for a layup and freshman teammate Dee Dee Durr (8 points, 5 rebounds) hit a 12-foooter from the baseline to extended the Cougars’ lead in the final three minutes.

“And Sarah is playing on a bad leg,” Travers said. “She played a great floor game for us. She is tough.

“Give Prairie Ridge credit. They started to come back by trapping us all over the place and it hurt us when we lost Katie (Lomas, who had 4 rebounds before suffering an ear injury with 2:49 left in the third quarter). But the girls hung on. Haley did a nice job rebounding in the fourth quarter and she hit those clutch free throws.”

The Cougars improved to 6-10 overall.

“I’m really proud of my girls,” Travers said. “After the tough two overtime loss the night before, the kids had to come out it and put it all on the line again.

“They (Prairie Ridge) came out in a box-and-one and we did a good job against it. This is the best season these girls have had going against zone defense because we have been able to get out shooters for free for looks.”

The Cougars were looking to bounce back Friday.

“The key was that we were motivated to win after that tough loss (Thursday),” Zades said. “We wanted to come back strong and play good defense.”