The hype around Conant and senior point guard Jimmy Sotos is fairly well-established at this point. The Cougars are No. 20 in the preseason Super 25 and considered the toast of the Mid-Suburban League.
But lets be honest, that doesn’t make most of the area quake in fear. The MSL hasn’t had much playoff success lately.
That may change this season. Conant looked the part on Monday, beating Prospect 74-63 at the St. Viator Thanksgiving Tournament in Arlington Heights.
The Knights, a senior-led team, also impressed. Their shots weren’t falling, but even so, the game was closer than the final score indicated.
“Our uniforms fit us a bit better, then don’t drape on us so much,” Conant coach Tom McCormack said. “The guys did some work in the weight room. Having seniors makes all the difference in the world.”
Sotos scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half.
“I was really happy with the halftime adjustment on Sotos, he only had two free throws in the second half,” Prospect coach John Camardella said. “He’s such a good player.”
Conant is more than just Sotos, as 6-9 junior Ryan Davis showed in the second half. He finished with 19 points (17 in the second half) and six rebounds.
“They did a good job of taking me away in the second, but with our team you take me away and you still have to deal with Ryan and he stepped up big for us in the second half,” Sotos said. “We have a lot of weapons on this team.”
The Cougars’ other big, 6-9 Mike Downing, had 13 points and seven rebounds. He had a few very impressive stretches in the game.
“Heck on an opening game,” McCormack said. “They are really well-coached, senior dominated. I think for the first game we will take what we saw, we think we can play better. We are trying to play at a little faster pace this year and we were able to do that tonight. It’s definitely something to build off of.”
Senior Frankie Mack led Prospect with 22 points and senior Michael Ritchie added 14 points and six rebounds. The Knights shot just 16-for-40 from the field and 4-for-21 from three-point range.
“We knew they were shooters, that’s where they would hurt us, so we wanted to focus on guarding the arc,” Sotos said.