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At the end of the first quarter, Mid-Suburban West rivals Conant and Schaumburg were tied at 13.
When the halftime buzzer rang, the score was 20-20.
After three, they were again deadlocked at 31.
In the fourth quarter, when big time players show up, the difference was Joey Ranallo
The Conant point guard scored seven of his 12 points in the final period, leading the visiting Cougars (6-4, 2-2) to a hard-fought 46-41 victory on Friday evening. Ranallo drove to the basket and sank a layup early in the fourth, drained a three midway through the period to extend the Conant lead to four, and then sank the eventual difference-making free throws with 30 seconds reaming to carry his team to victory.
“It was a big-time team effort. They found me the ball, and I hit some shots,” Ranallo said. “We knew it was going to be a tight game. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, especially playing in their gym, but we persevered and played through, and it worked out in the end.”
Ranallo did more than just score in the fourth. He was one of three Cougars to finish with in double-figures in scoring, while also finishing with five assists, finding teammates Robert Hudson (12 points) and Kevin Schimel (10 points) repeatedly for buckets. Conant head coach Tom McCormack knew he could trust his senior guard when it mattered most.
“Joey’s our point guard, and point guards take care of the ball and make free throws at the end of the game,” McCormack said. “He’s going to have the ball in his hands at the end, he’s going to get fouled, and he’s got to want to get fouled. That’s exactly what you want out of your point guard.”
Schaumburg (4-5, 2-2) missed three crucial free throws in the fourth quarter that could have made a difference in the game. The Saxons were led in scoring by Kyle Bolger and Ryan Kase, who had 10 points apiece.