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Practices for Buffalo Grove's girls basketball team this week centered around one theme.
"We put an emphasis on competing — we did drills and there were consequences for winning and losing," said senior forward Alyssa Mills.
Bison coach Steve Kolodziej and assistant Tim Podulka must have had the right idea.
The Bison competed as well as they have all season on Saturday against visiting Prospect.
Turning in its top effort of the season, Buffalo Grove turned back the Knights 58-42 in the Mid-Suburban East contest.
Senior guard Amanda Salzman scored a season-high 14 points with 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists while junior guard Kimberly Herzog reached double figures with 11 points as BG improved to 3-7 and 1-2 in the East.
"We just came out with a lot of energy and played without fear," Salzman said. "We played without a fear of making mistakes."
It was result of this week's practice.
"Coach Podulka and I had along conversation and we said we had to continue to teach the kids how to compete," said first-year coach Kolodziej. "In practice, we had consequences for losing and rewards for winning.
"This game the kids showed confidence from the start. They weren't afraid to make mistakes."
Instead, they made baskets when the needed them.
A 3-pointer by Adriane Falagario, 2 free throws by Taylor Will and a 16-footer from Trish Benson got the Knights off to a 7-0 start.
But it hardly fazed the Bison who surged right back with a driving scoop layup by Bailey North and three straight baskets from Salzman to grab an 8-7 lead.
"I was confident in our team," Salzman said. "We knew we were going to keep fighting to the end."
And the Bison did, even when Prospect (7-5, 1-2) rallied from an 8-point deficit to get to within 27-26 at half when Michele Molini made a pair of free throws with three seconds left.
The third quarter was close until the final three minutes.
That's when BG used a 12-2 run take charge.
A rebound bank shot by Angela Budimir, driving layup by Salzman and 2 free throws by Mills gave the hosts a 46-36 after three quarters.
Salzman started the final quarter with a layup and Herzog hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give BG a 53-39 lead with 5:10 left.
"We definitely knocked down more shots than we have been," Mills said. "We came to play as a team and we were all confident that we could compete and win."
North finished with 9 rebounds and 3 assists while senior forward Mary Zawlocki contributed 8 points.
Sophomore guard Julie Jambrone handed out 3 assists along with a 3-pointer while classmate Madeline Callahan also hit a 3-pointer.
"The kids played hard," Kolodziej said. "And Prospect is a good basketball team. Now we look forward to a good week of practice and get ready for a tough opponent in Hersey. We've got to keep getting better."
Prospect was led by Will (9 points), Molini (8), Catherine Sherwood (7) and Falagario (6).
"At time we lost track of their shooters," said Prospect coach and former BG standout guard Ashley Graham, who was back at her alma mater as a head coach for the first time. "They had too many 3-pointers and they attacked the lane hard on us. They got past us a few times. We may have been over-helping on defense and losing touch of their shooters."