Hinsdale South’s buzzer-beater takes down Conant

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Hinsdale South’s Zion Griffin slams home a basket against Conant, , December 16, 2017. Allen Cunningham / For the Sun-Times.

Hinsdale South sophomore Billy Durkin spent the first nine games of the season adjusting to the speed of varsity basketball. Hornets coach Brett Moore says “the kid can shoot” and he’s been impressed with Durkin’s intelligence on defense.

Durkin combined the intelligence and the shooting ability on the final play of Hinsdale South’s 48-45 win against visiting Conant on Saturday. He found an open spot in the corner, received the inbounds pass from Hornets star senior Zion Griffin and drained a three-pointer right before the buzzer.

“The play actually wasn’t for me but it kind of broke down so I just figured I would go and try and get the shot and it worked out,” Durkin said. “I knew it was a big shot, a big opportunity for me.”

Durkin had made a three earlier in the quarter, his only other points in the game.

“I told [Durkin] at halftime to slow down, relax and play,” Moore said. “He made seven pass fakes on one play in the first half. He can shoot the ball though.”

“We snuffed out the initial play and then [Durkin] leaked out,” Conant coach Jim Maley said. “I thought we did a good job of stopping them. The kid made a good shot.”

Griffin finished with 15 points and five rebounds. The Iowa State recruit is a marked man this season, one of the area’s true senior stars. He was a breakout star nationally over the summer, even picking up a scholarship offer from Kansas.

“I’m still taking it all in, being humble and trusting the process,” Griffin said. “It’s been a great season. We have some younger guys we are trying to mold into varsity players, they’ve been really good. I’m looking forward to seeing where we can go.”

Conant’s 6-9 center, senior Ryan Davis, was terrific. The Vermont recruit scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds.

“That was a heavyweight fight between [Davis] and Zion,” Moore said. “We have long, athletic bigs and [Davis] is athletic and bigger than my two bigs combined.”

Davis handled the ball well, hit a three-pointer and dished off a couple of assists.

“He just knows how to play and our guys get it to him,” Maley said. “He’s kind of unstoppable. He’s getting that mean streak. I think he was passive last year. Vermont got an absolute stud.”

Senior guard Ramon Norman led Hinsdale South (8-2) with 17 points.

“He’s a hustle guy that can shoot the ball,” Moore said. “Last year he didn’t get many varsity minutes, this year he has really stepped up.”

Anthony Wachal scored 10 for Conant (6-4) and Rajat Mittal added seven. The Cougars beat rival Fremd last night and knocked off Evanston early in the season.

Hinsdale South lost to Willowbrook on Friday, which snapped a seven-game winning streak. The Hornets have another promising sophomore, 6-7 Aaron Tims.

“[Conant] is a really good team,” Moore said. “That was fun to watch even as a coach and I’m not usually thinking that while I”m coaching.”

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