Palatine picks up MSL West win over Conant

Committing to Division I Coastal Carolina and then scoring her 1,000th point three days ago, Madi Stark was coming off a big week.

Palatine's 6-foot-1 senior didn't slow down on Tuesday, scoring a game-high 17 points as the Pirates snapped Conant's four-game winning streak with a 45-34 Mid-Suburban West girls basketball triumph.

"She's (Stark) a good player and had a great week," said Palatine coach Bill LePage, whose team improved to 12-12 and 3-4.

"Conant has been on a nice roll so we knew we had to come out and play hard because they're very talented. They can shoot the ball as well as anyone in the conference. We had to play better defense and team basketball. We were happy with how it ended."

It ended with Stark's teammate Megan VanBrunt enjoying a big night on the boards. The 5-11 junior pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds (7 offensive) along with her 7 points. Megan Kim added 8 points for the winners while Lindsay Plourde chipped in 5.

"Megan really stepped up and played great defense," LePage added. "No. 32 (Emily Ytsen) is a great shooter for a post player and Megan really did a great job on her."

Baskets by Stark, Van Brunt and Kim put Conant (11-10, 4-4) ahead 6-0 less than two minutes into the game.

Three-pointers by Ytsen and Lauren Fricke tied the game 6-6 with 2:30 left in the period. A 3-pointer by Elise Martino and two layups by Stark, the last on a steal with five seconds left, gave the hosts a 13 -8 lead after one quarter.

The Pirates took a 19-10 lead when Kim flipped a quick pass to Stark, who drove in for the layup with 4:12 left in the second quarter. Sophomore Lindsay Plourde and Kim followed with 3-pointers to make it 25-10 with 40 seconds in the half.

Stark blocked a shot with two seconds left and narrowly missed an 85-footer at the buzzer.

"I thought our defense was really good, especially giving up only 10 points at halftime," LePage said. "In the second half we got a little sloppy but we held on."

A layup by VanBrunt off an assist from Plourde and a steal and layup by Stark extended Palatine's run to 16-0 early in the third quarter. The big rally ended on 2 free throws by sophomore Asha Cobb with 6:43 left in the third quarter.

Sam Locascio's 3-pointer with 59 seconds left capped the third-quarter scoring with Conant in front 37-23.

A driving layup by Stark and rebound and scoop shot by Plourde made it 42-25 with three minutes left.

Senior Allie Henning zipped a pass into Stark for a layup that made it 45-29 with under a minute remaining.

"It's a good win for us and a good win for the program," LePage said.

"We never stopped working together," Stark added. "We kept our chemistry all the way and pulled out the win. It's very exciting and now we get ready for Barrington (Friday night)."

Conant was led by Cobb (8 points, 1 3-pointer to end the game) and Locascio (7). Kristina Tierney and Fricke each added 6.

"Palatine came out with a ton of energy and we really didn't match it," said Cougars coach Todd Strauch. "I'll take the blame for that. I didn't have them ready to go. We got down early and you expend so much energy trying to get back into it. I thought Sam, Kanna and Asha played so hard the whole game and you can live it when the effort is there. I thought those three played especially hard."

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