Buffalo Grove proving there's more to life than just basketball
Coaches and athletes like numbers.
And for the Buffalo Grove boys basketball team, the numbers were favorable.
One-hundred eight-seven boxes. 40,392 meals. 11 children fed -- for an entire year.
Those are the numbers the Bison helped generate last week when they spent some time working at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg.
The boys measured and scooped food into bags and boxed the food that is sent all over the world.
The entire program, approximately 50 players, participated in the community service project, which is one of several that dot the team's schedule each season for the last six seasons.
"I think the kids really appreciate these kinds of experiences," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "It's great to donate, but we really like doing this because it's about getting out and actually doing something for others and seeing the end results. (At Feed My Starving Children), they do a great job of letting you know where the food goes and that makes you feel good.
"We try to do other things like this because it really does make a difference with the kids. We emphasize that what we're doing isn't just basketball and that there is a lot more out there in life."
In mid-December, the Bison spent the day at the Palatine Opportunity Center, which assists local elementary students who experience challenges at home. Children are provided with food and holiday gifts and are read to and given opportunities to play sports.
The Bison brought holiday gifts of hats and gloves for the children and they made cookies with the kids.
"The kids there wanted to challenge our kids in basketball, too," Peterson said. "They had a lot of fun with that, and it was fun for our kids, too."
Meanwhile, the Bison also adopted a family of five from Buffalo Grove last month and collected money for the family for holiday gifts.
"My wife Julie got me started with all of this," Peterson said. "She's really involved with the Palatine Opportunity Center and giving back there. She'll bake cupcakes for the kids' birthday parties there. She's really good about getting involved and she pulled me along and I think it's been a great thing for our team, too."
Getting to the point(s): Scoring points doesn't seem to be a problem for Buffalo Grove.
The Bison are coming off a game last week in which they scored 93 points against Grayslake North (a 93-71 win). They also have posted an 82-point game and four games in the 70s.
Buffalo Grove, which is 9-7 on the season, averages 65 points per game.
"We are still very young and inexperienced, but offensively, we are playing at a high clip," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "I'm happy because we are playing at a pace that I want to be at. Our defense needs some work, but we're getting better."
Buffalo Grove is able to roll up the points thanks in large part to its "Big Three," which consists of freshman Kam Craft, who had 28 points against Grayslake North, as well as junior Nate Cole and senior Tom Trieb.
Craft leads the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game while Cole is at 14.6 points per game and Trieb is at 12 points per game.
Trieb, who is coming off a broken hip in football, also leads the team in rebounding at 7 boards per game while Cole has scored more than 20 points in four games this season.
"It's amazing what Tom has been able to do in coming back from his injury. He's worked really hard to work his way back into shape," Peterson said. "And Nate has developed into a really big scorer. He was at about 2 points per game last year and is now at 15. He was kind of known as a 3-point shooter last year but really worked hard on his game over the summer to add inside moves and drives to the basket."
Meanwhile, Craft has impressed from the start, rolling up 31 points in his varsity debut back in November against Grayslake Central.
"The greatest thing about Kam is that he is so humble and unassuming and is such a hard worker. He's the first one in the gym and the last one out. He's a gym rat," Peterson said. "That makes him very well-liked by his teammates and that's important (for a freshman in Craft's position as the team's leading scorer)."
MSL's melting pot: Basketball is just part of the experience during basketball season at Hoffman Estates.
The boys on the varsity team there also use team time together to learn about different cultures and languages and cuisines.
The Hawks are the melting pot of the Mid-Suburban League.
"We're like the United Nations," Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule said. "We are a very diverse team, with different religions and cultures and ethnicities all on one team."
Yanule says that his team includes a Polish player, a Turkish player, an Indian and Pakistani player, an East Asian, a few African-Americans, a few Caucasians and a few Hispanics.
"This diversity on just our team is really a reflection of what Hoffman Estates High School is all about. The kids at our high school come from everywhere," Yanule said. "It's really fun for the guys on our team. A lot of our kids visit the countries where they're from, they speak those languages at home and sometimes even in practice. The differences between the kids and the cultures make for some rich conversations at practice."
Yanule says that those differences have actually brought his players closer. The differences have given them something to bond over. And that bond is helping the Hawks dig deep as they try to find answers in their 4-11 season.
"Our kids have inside jokes, they laugh a lot and I think they like being exposed to all the different cultures," Yanule said. "I think as much as the different cultures separate our guys, they unify our guys even more.
"Our guys get along so well and blend so well because they just appreciate their differences. They have a lot of fun being together and learning from each other."
Defensive-minded: While Buffalo Grove may have one of the best offenses in the area, Hoffman Estates might have one of the best defenses.
The Hawks have given up 60 points or more only twice this season and have allowed 40 or fewer points five times with a low of just 21 points allowed against Lakes.
"Defensively, we are very solid," Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule said. "We play a very intense man-to-man defense and other teams know they're going to get that out of us.
"Our problems are with our offense. We'll sometimes make some bad decisions with the ball or take shots we shouldn't take. We're putting up only 43 points per game."
The Hawks have only two players averaging double-figures, Sheldon Barnett-Morales and Rudra Patel. Both are averaging about 10 points per game.