2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/12/2018 10:46 PM

Buscher’s big game helps Mundelein bounce Buffalo Grove

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While at Schaumburg High School, Mundelein first-year coach Greg Dorgan and Buffalo Grove coach Steve Kolodziej both played in state championship games.

Kolodziej quarterbacked the Saxons' 2000 football team which took second place in the state, while Dorgan was a member of the 2001 boys basketball team that won it all.

On Monday night in the Buffalo Grove Class 4A regional, their paths crossed again as Mundelein rallied past the host school 51-41.

As so many elimination games often are, it seemed liked both teams were playing for a state championship from start to finish.

The No. 17-seeded Bison went ahead 7-2 only to see the No. 16 Mustangs charge back and take a 26-13 lead with 1:53 left in the first half.

BG overcame the deficit and nudged ahead 35-34 on Heide Schmit's 3-pointer to open the third quarter.

But the Mustangs responded to their only second-half deficit to advance to today's 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Warren.

Mustangs senior Hannah Buscher scored a career-high 20 points and tied her personal best of five 3-pointers in one game.

Sophomore teammate Morgan Frank contributed 17 points and senior Ellie Maldonado produced the first double-digit scoring game of her career with 10 points to help lead the Mustangs (11-19).

It was Buscher's 3-pointer hat quickly regained the lead for Mundelein at 37-35 followed by Maldonado's putback that made it 39-35 with 6:52 left in the game.

Junior Jackie Bickhaus' bucket got the Bison to within 39-37 but Mundelein went on a 9-2 run to take command.

"We've really been working on finishing games," Maldonado said. "I felt the one thing that kept us going the whole game was just staying focused. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game."

The Bison, despite their 5-25 record, didn't make it easy for many teams this season.

"We knew their record was not indicative of what they were capable of," Dorgan said. "This was a good, competitive basketball game."

The Bison were led by sophomore Kendra Lee's 16 points. Bickhaus finished with 7 while juniors Syndey Fortman and Schmit each finished with 6.

"We got off to a great start (with a 3-pointer by Bickhaus and two baskets from Lee for the 7-2 lead)," Kolodziej said. "Then we just settled for 3-point shots around the perimeter and stopped going to the rim.

"We made that nice run in the third quarter. I thought we were going to do it and just came up a little short."

Dorgan wasn't surprised a bit BG's big move to start the third quarter.

"Anybody who has watched us all season has seen us have those lulls in the middle quarters," he said. "They've been either right before halftime or right after. But to be able to withstand it at this time of the season and then go on a run of our own was an awesome way to see the growth in our girls."

Frank also pulled down 7 rebounds while Maldonado had five. Buscher and Amanda Garcia each handed out 3 assists.

'We needed that game (20 points from Buscher)," Dorgan said. "And obviously the points from Morgan (Frank). Ellie (Maldonado) has been great on the boards for us season long. Those are the contributions we needed from all three of those players."

"We just tried to keep a high intensity the whole time and I think that really helped to keep us focused," Maldonado added. "Our transition game ws really fast. As soon as we got the ball, we looked to score every time and I feel that really worked in our favor."

Kolodziej felt if his team's shooting percentage would have been a little higher, the game could have been even more interesting at the finish.

"Unfortunately, we played them when No. 22 (Buscher) had a night," Kolodziej said. "And unfortunately, the shots weren't falling for us."

But like all season, Kolodziej was not faulting the effort from his team, which included only one senior on the roster (Alyssa Floro).

"I have no complaints," he said. "I wish we would have come out on the winning end in a few more games and we were certainly in a lot of them. But I think anyone who played against us would tell you our record was nowhere indicative of the type of team we were. We battled hard, we played hard.

"And I'll tell you this -- it's certainly bittersweet. We're going to miss Alyssa (Floro) and her leadership and everything else about her. But we'll be back and stronger next season. We'll learn from this."

When Mundelein surged to its biggest lead at 13 points, Alyssa Floro's 3-point play got the Bison back on track.

Alyssa Ramos and Megan Fontanetta also scored points for BG.

"This is a great group of kids" Kolodziej added. "They're fighters. They worked hard and are extremely coachable. And most importantly they're fun to be around."

Kolodziej also had fun coaching against Dorgan, who was the Wauconda interim head girls coach a year ago when he also won a play-in game before falling to top-seeded Hersey in the semifinal.

"It's a small world," Kolodziej said. "He's a little younger than I. He's a great guy and doing a good job with those kids."

While Buscher, Frank and Maldonado did the bulk of the scoring, Mundelein also got buckets from Kelly Austwick and Kendall Klatt.

Next up for the Mustangs is Warren today at 6 p.m.

"They're a tough team," Maldonado said. "We are looking forward to the opportunity to play them again."

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