There were many crucial plays in the final two minutes of the Mid-Suburban East boys basketball game at Buffalo Grove on Saturday, but none was more important than Scott Smithern's game-winning 3 that cleared the net just as the horn sounded.
Smithern (14 points) took a pass from Andrew Apel (19 points) and made the wide-open jumper with the score tied at 54, giving the Bison (7-11, 1-4) the 57-54 decision over Elk Grove (9-6, 3-2), their first East win of the season.
"I knew there was an opportunity that I was going to get the ball," said Smithern of the play drawn up during a timeout with 7.5 seconds remaining. "They all collapsed on Andrew. When I released it, I knew it was going in."
"I knew we had to make the move quickly," Apel said. "I saw Scott's guy come over, and he was wide open."
The Bison led 31-23 at halftime and 42-32 after 3 quarters, but the visiting Grens still had some fight in them. Joell Melendez scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter.
His 3 cut the deficit to 54-52 with 40 seconds left, and after BG committed a 10-second violation, Tyler Ingebrigtsen tied the game with 12 seconds left on a short jumper.
"We haven't had a lot of close ones, so it feels good to finish one out," Smithern said.
"We focused a lot on offense this week," BG coach Keith Peterson said. "We watched a lot of film of us. We've been getting a lot of real good looks lately.
"The most nerve-wracking play was getting the ball inbounds," Peterson said. "We didn't have any timeouts left."
"We wanted to squeeze on Apel," Elk Grove coach Anthony Furman said of the final play. "We gave up the shot we wanted.
"I liked our fight in the fourth quarter, but I don't like the way we played the rest of the game," Furman said. "We came out with a very lukewarm approach to the game. If we had come back to win the game, we wouldn't have deserved it. They outplayed us."
Scott Furlong scored 12 points for Elk Grove.