While Buffalo Grove won't be playing in the Mid-Suburban League title game next week, the Bison made a statement Friday night that they can play championship-caliber basketball.
They dug in on defense and lit it up on offense en route to a home-court 83-51 blasting of Prospect, which had clinched the MSL East coming in. But it was BG (14-11, 6-4) that played like it was in command of the division.
Forget, for a moment, the 25-of-49 shooting, the 6-of-12 on 3-pointers and 27-of-31 at the foul line. And they committed just 8 turnovers all night while forcing 9 out of Prospect.
In the first half.
BG topped the Knights on the boards 30-20 and limited them to 19-of-51 from the floor, including 0-for-11 on 3-pointers.
"I thought defensively we kind of set the tone," said BG coach Ryan O'Connor.
Early steals from Andrew Apel, Scott Smithern and high-scorer Luke Potnick (33), and having big guys Todd Ahlers, Kevin Newman and Jonah Malin made things uncomfortable for the Knights (15-10, 8-2) around the rim as the Bison blocked 4 shots.
BG raced up and down the court off turnovers, with Potnick alternately hitting step-back jumpers and scoop drives, as he did to end the first half, or finding his teammates with an uncanny display of passing.
"I don't know who can play at that level," O'Connor said of his star guard.
Potnick was more interested in having the team find its groove.
Early in the season, he said, "We didn't know our identity."
"We're playing good ball right now," heading into a final divisional crossover game before a rematch with Hersey at Lake Zurich a week from Monday in Class 4A regional play. "I feel like if we can get hot, get an early win, maybe we can make a run."
Potnick certainly got his teammates in the running with an impressive display of team-oriented passing.
"I definitely like that," said Potnick, who drew appreciative oohs and aahs from the crowd with assist after assist to Apel (23 points) and Malin (10), who sparkled off the bench.
While Prospect never quite figured out BG's scrambling defense, coach John Camardella is confident in his group's ability to bounce back against Schaumburg on Wednesday in the league title game.
"The kids are excited about it," he said.
But Camardella acknowledged Potnick's performance, along with his standout career.
"Knowing the type of player he is, on his senior night, it was an impressive performance," Camardella said.
Colin Olson and Jake Young had 9 points apiece to lead the Knights, and Mike Houghton had a circus move for a driving hoop, but Prospect never got its offense in gear.