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Defensive prowess carries Schaumburg past Conant
By Michael Eaken | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/18/2013 11:29 PM

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Schaumburg’s girls basketball team did not have its best game offensively Friday night against visiting Conant, but the Saxons sure were able to turn up the heat defensively.

Schaumburg senior guard duo Riley Williams and Amanda Kelly keyed the defense in leading the Saxons to a gritty 42-35 Mid-Suburban League West victory.

Kelly scored a game-high 15 points and had a couple of key steals, while Williams directed the Saxons’ offense and helped limit the Cougars to 4 field goals in the second half.

“That’s our main goal, we’ve been tightening up the defense in practice,” said Kelly who scored 8 second-half points. “Defense is going to win games.”

Schaumburg (10-10, 2-4) slowed a Conant squad that had won 5 of its previous 7, limiting the Cougars to 19 percent shooting (4-for -21) in the second half.

“It’s very important,” said Williams of the Saxons’ defensive effort. “We talked about keeping up the pressure.”

Kelly keyed a 7-2 run to end the first quarter in giving Schaumburg a 13-8 advantage entering the second quarter.

Schaumburg kept the pressure on early in the second quarter and led 20-14 with 4:55 remaining in the half, but sophomore Zades Lexi (5 points) came off the bench to give Conant a lift, and junior Sarah Mazurek put back with 1:35 remaining gave the Cougars a brief 22-20 lead.

But sophomore Jada Blackwell answered with a 3-pointer to give the Saxons back the lead. Blackwell scored 8 of her 13 points in the second quarter, helping Schaumburg to a 24-22 halftime advantage.

“She’s a very versatile player,” said Schaumburg coach Ashley Berggren of the Saxons sophomore. “She has a nice touch around the basket.”

The game turned into a grind in the second half, with neither team able to muster much offensively, but junior Melanie Tomaszewski hit a jumper with 29 second remaining in the third quarter to give the Saxons their largest lead at 37-27.

Conant (8-12, 1-5) then used a 6-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarter to narrow the deficit to 37-33 with 6:37 remaining in the game.

“We played hard and battled,” said Conant coach Dan Travers of his young Cougars group. “We didn’t get out-hustled, but they were a bit more physical.”

Kelly answered with a 3- pointer with 4:39 remaining lifting Schaumburg to a 40-33 advantage and Saxons did not allow a Cougar field goal in the final 7:38.

Sophomore Katie Lomas paced the Cougars attack with 7 points.

“We just had to find a way,” said Berggren. “It wasn’t pretty but in the end we found a way.”