Freshman Craft hits for 31 as Buffalo Grove downs Grayslake Central
Freshman Kam Craft scored 31 points in his varsity debut as Buffalo Grove won a barnburner 79-75 over Grayslake Central on the first day of the Bison boys basketball Thanksgiving tournament Monday.
Junior Nate Cole added 27 points, including some big shots at the end, as BG held off a Rams rally.
"My first game, I was excited, a little nervous," said Craft. "I was expecting to go out and play my game and I did that."
"Credit to Grayslake," said BG coach Keith Peterson. "They kept fighting back and fighting back. You can do everything in practice and preseason but you can't simulate being down two with three minutes to go and how you're going to respond."
Antonio Crews scored 26 points for the Rams.
"I thought they (BG) came out with a lot more toughness and effort in the first half," said Grayslake Central coach Kosta Kougias. "In the second half we came out with energy but when you expend that kind of energy to make up some ground, at the end, the ball just bounced the other way a few times."
A couple of early 3-pointers from senior guard Ethan Soifer helped lead BG to a 10-point lead.
Grayslake Central caught up in the second quarter, as a dunk by 6-foot-7 Rams junior Grant Hardy ignited the Grayslake Central rally,
A 3-pointer from Rams junior guard Ethan Boelens gave Central its first lead at 33-31, and the game went back and forth until a 3 at the halftime buzzer by Sloan Kipley put BG in front 40-38 at the break.
Central opened a 5-point lead in the third quarter, but BG tied the game at 55-all on a steal by Kipley then a layup from Connor Adams.
Central trailed midway through the fourth then 2 free throws from Crews put Grayslake Central up 70-69.
But Cole hit two huge 3s back-to-back to give BG a 75-70 advantage.
The Rams got close again and trailed by only 2 after a late 3 from Crews, but 2 free throws by Tyler Kipley with 3 seconds left put the game in the win column for BG.
"We've got high goals for both those guys this year, " Peterson added of Cole and Craft. "Together, they're a deadly combo. They both hit some big shots but more importantly they battled their tails off."
Griffin O'Gorden scored 13 for the Rams while Hardy added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"There was a big possession at the end -- a loose ball that we had three guys around -- but it ended up in the hands of number 3 (Cole) and he buried a 3, and that was something we couldn't overcome," Kougias said.
Ethan Soifer scored 9 points for the Bison.
"It was a close game," said Craft, "so I knew I had to step up (down the stretch) to help our team win. I just did everything I could."