Callahan shoots Buffalo Grove past Stevenson
As soon as Buffalo Grove's girls basketball season ends, Maddy Callahan will have her long-awaited ACL surgery.
"It's just partially torn," the 5-foot-8 senior guard, who wears a cumbersome brace on her left knee, said with a shrug.
Callahan is in no hurry to stop playing ball, as evident by the 24 points, including six 3-pointers, that she poured in during fifth-seeded Buffalo Grove's thrilling, 59-55 win over No. 4 Stevenson in the Class 4A Carmel Catholic regional final Friday night.
The victory earned Buffalo Grove (21-10) a berth in Monday's 7 p.m. Palatine sectional semifinal against fellow Mid-Suburban League member Fremd (24-4), which is the No. 1 seed.
"We've been saying all year, we play in a pretty tough conference," Buffalo Grove coach Steve Kolodziej said. "This is one of (the girls') goals that they've had all year long. I was proud to be a part of it. I can't speak more highly of the girls we have. I love to be around them. I love coaching them. They're always eager to learn."
Kolodziej learned under Tom Dineen, who won 677 games at Buffalo Grove before becoming Stevenson's coach six years ago. Kolodziej served as an assistant coach for three seasons under Dineen and considers him a mentor. Before Friday, Dineen had never coached against his former school.
"As my son (Sean) reminded me, it's the only MSL team that I haven't beaten," Dineen said after his Patriots saw their season end at 26-5, despite senior Taylor Buford's 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Maddie Welter added 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and 5 steals for Buffalo Grove. But the story for most of the night was Callahan, who tore her ACL playing AAU ball last summer. She said her knee sometimes pops out during games, but she has had no regrets this season.
And her coach couldn't be more proud of her.
"This is a girl who's committed herself to the game and developed so much since her freshman year," Kolodziej said. "She was a post player (as a freshman). She put in the time, effort and energy to come up with an outside jump shot."
Callahan scored all of her points in the first three quarters, hitting 9 of 13 shots, including 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. Her 8 points -- two 3-pointers and a runner -- in 46 seconds early in the second half put the Bison in front 40-33.
"I had been shooting really badly," Callahan said. "I think I was 0-for-12 the last past two games. So I just wanted to come out, be strong and help my team."
Stevenson answered back after Callahan's flurry of points, closing the third with a 9-2 run that knotted the score at 49-49 entering the fourth. Patriots senior Sophia Way scored the quarter's final 5 points, including a 3-pointer.
Welter started the fourth-quarter scoring with her third 3-pointer, and Buffalo Grove built a 56-49 lead. Buford helped limit Callahan's touches, but Stevenson missed its first 11 shots before freshman Skylar Blackstock (13 points, 6 rebounds) put back her own miss, drew the foul and sank the free throw to pull the Patriots within four. Stevenson guard Janine Fajardo (9 points) knocked down her third 3 to cut the Bison lead to 56-55 with 2:45 left, but the Patriots didn't score again, despite numerous chances.
Bri Kolbus (5 points) split four throws down the stretch to create just enough distance for Buffalo Grove. Stevenson made only 2 of 17 shots in the fourth.
"Senior year you're supposed to lose to a team that's better than you," said Way, who had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in the final game of her four-year varsity career. "It's tough. That's why it's going to be hard to go to sleep tonight."
Ashley Richardson (10 points) also scored in double figures for Stevenson, which needed a buzzer-beater by Buford to beat Mundelein in its regional semifinal.
"Both (Mundelein and Buffalo Grove) came out aggressively," said Buford, who will play at Butler after four varsity seasons. "It's regional time. It's the state playoffs. It's a whole new game. You can take out the records. (Buffalo Grove) came at us really hard. They hit a lot of 3s, a lot of shots. It's hard to lose, but I'm proud of my teammates. I had a great season with them. It was a great four years."
Sammy Stejskal had 9 points and 9 rebounds for the Bison, who hit 10 3s. Julie Jambrone (4 points) made a big fourth-quarter shot.
"I'm just so happy right now," Callahan said. "I'm so proud of my team. We just went out there, tried to win every quarter and played our hearts out. Every person contributed."