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There was good reason for the Buffalo Grove student body to rush the floor following Thursday’s Buffalo Grove Class 4A regional championship game.
The exuberant fans had just watched the Bison — seeded No. 11 — upset No. 3 Prospect 44-43 in overtime for their first regional crown since 2008.
Junior Maddie Callahan, who scored 25 points, made 2 free throws with 1:18 left in OT and added another one at 1:06 to give BG a 44-41 lead.
Junior Taylor Will, who also scored 25 points, drove for a layup that got the Knights to within a point with 48 seconds left.
After the Bison missed two free throws with 23.4 seconds, Prospect got the final possession.
The Knights called for time with 8.7 and 3.2 seconds remaining before just missing a rebound bank shot as time expired.
The Bison fans stormed the floor and BG (15-15) had defeated the Knights (23-6) for the second time in three games this season.
Buffalo Grove advances to Tuesday’s 8 p.m. sectional semifinal at Barrington, where the Bison will face No. 2 Fremd (26-3).
“I’m so overwhelmed with excitement,” said Callahan, who was overwhelmingly sharp at the free throw line, where she made 13-of-14 free throws. “We just wanted to got out and play as hard as we possibly could. I thought we played real good defense on them and we were confident.”
The confident Bison surged ahead 31-20 early in the fourth quarter when Julie Jambrone converted a layup of her rebound.
Prospect, though, was far from out of it.
The Knights scored 10 unanswered points, capped by Mallory Gonzalez’s third 3-pointer that made it 31-30 with 5:10 left in the game.
Neither team led by more than 3 points the rest of the way.
“It was an excellent basketball game which came down to the end, like we thought would happen,” said Bison coach Steve Kolodziej. “We just told the girls whether you are up 11 or down 5, you’ve got to keep fighting to give yourself a chance at the end.”
At the end of regulation, the score was tied at 39 following 2 free throws by Will with 23.9 seconds left.
Will, who had all four of Prospect’s points in OT, gave her team a 1-point lead with a free throw to start the extra session.
But Jambrone and Callahan combined for 5 free throws the rest of the way to give BG the chance to cut down the nets afterward.
“Obviously, the game could have gone either way,” said Knights coach Ashley Graham. “You’ve got to credit Buffalo Grove. They’ve had a nice run in the postseason.”
The victory run also includes a victory over No. 6 Zion-Benton and No. 21 Round Lake.
“This is amazing,” said senior Courtney Meyer, “We hadn’t done it (win a regional) for a long time. We stopped them with our defense. Kim Herzog (senior guard) did a great job on defense for us.”
Bri Kolbus also came up with some strong defense on BG’s final stop of the game,
Offensively, Callahan played a major part. She scored all 7 of BG’s points in second quarter and collected 12 rebounds in the game.
“They did an excellent job taking Maddie Welter out of the game,” Kolodziej said. “And Maddy Callahan stepped up. We’ve been talking all season about team roles over individual goals.
“Maddy (Callahan) had an outstanding game. The best thing is that she is not forcing things and letting the game come to her. In my opinion she should been all-conference. Big-time players make big-time plays when you need them and Maddy did that.”
The game was tied at 18-18 early in the second quarter but BG used a 3-pointer by Welter to spark a 10-2 run that extended into the final period.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in that third quarter,’ Graham said. “But I was definitely proud of the girls and how they battled back late in the game and stormed ahead.
“This doesn’t take anything away from our season. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t. The girls have been great right to the end. Obviously, it hurts now because they wanted their season to continue. But they had a great season and they’ll learn from it.”