Imagine the possibilities if Buffalo Grove starts playing really well.
The Bison boys varsity basketball team committed 31 fouls Wednesday night. As well as 23 turnovers. They shot just 21-for-47 from the floor, 17-for-25 at the line and 6-for-18 from 3-point range.
Tenacious defense when they really needed it, pressure free throws when they had to have them and clutch rebounds when they needed to grab them enabled BG to forge a 65-61 win over Grayslake Central and move to 1-1 on their home court in the annual Bison Classic Boys Varsity Basketball Tournament.
Buffalo Grove meets Christian Liberty Academy on Friday night as the round-robin tournament continues, with the Bison looking to keep their tourney title hopes alive.
They barely kept themselves alive Wednesday night against a Grayslake Central team that wouldn't go away as the Bison built a 50-38 third-quarter lead on the sharpshooting of Luke Potnick (30 points) and some tremendous overall floor play from Andrew Apel (13 points), Colin Inlow and Kevin Newman, plus Jonah Malin off the bench.
But Grayslake Central actually scraped ahead and made a seesaw game of in the fourth quarter on the gutty play of Connor Daly and Jacob Vargo, plus senior Danny Reed and junior Malcolm Reed, who alternated at point guard and gave the Bison ballhandlers fits with their quickness.
Down the stretch, with Potnick fouled out, Apel knocked down his free throws and had a key steal to lead to yet another free toss that varsity newcomer Joe Domingo nervously banked in. Apel's free throws with 24.1 seconds and 11.6 seconds left ultimately sealed it.
"Andrew's really hitting. He drives the lane," said Potnick. "Jonah (Malin) was really good."
Potnick was most gratified by the hustle he saw.
"Effort, effort," he stressed of what BG has to bring consistently.
Buffalo Grove will need it Saturday against Stevenson, which has the inside track on the tournament title right now at 3-0.
And despite what he called "some ill-advised shots," late in the game and some "defense that was spotty," coach Ryan O'Connor was happy to get the win. But when the Bison had their press going and were forcing turnovers, they looked unbeatable.
"They played hard," said O'Connor. "This is a big step in the right direction for us. This effort has to become our expectation."
Grayslake Central felt the same -- except for the result.
"I was pleased with the effort," said coach Brian Moe. "They forced us into a lot of turnovers. They made plays when they had to."
So did Jack Spicer inside (14 points), whom the Bison could hardly control, and Grayslake got a terrific effort off its bench, 29 points' worth, from Vargo, Malcolm Reed, Alex Lennartz, Alex Stickler, Kevin Orozco and Joel Stewart.
But foul trouble kept Moe from finding his optimal lineup. At least so far.
"We don't really know what our best combinations are," he said.