Buffalo Grove downs Hersey in OT
The Mid-Suburban East boys basketball championship may have been decided last week, but try telling that to Buffalo Grove and Hersey and a packed house at Ken Carter Gym Friday night who were treated to a back-and-forth battle that had a championship game feel that after 35 minutes and 59 seconds was tied at 58.
Until a game-winning pass from Buffalo Grove's senior quarterback set up the game-winning shot.
Junior guard Tyler Kipley's reception of that pass from Connor Adams and subsequent 10-footer with two-tenths of a second left extended play and sent the visiting Bison home a 60-58 winner.
The win came for a Buffalo Grove squad that was short-handed due to a pair of injuries to starters.
Senior forward Tom Trieb, a Northern Illinois football signee, was lost for the season when he reinjured his hip a couple a weeks ago while freshman swingman Kam Craft was injured in a home loss last week to division champ Prospect but is expected to return in time for regional action the week after next.
"Unbelievable heart tonight. We came out a little nervous to start and then the first quarter we made a nice run and got the eight-point lead and you know Hersey's gonna keep fighting back and grinding back. We made some big shots down the stretch and most importantly we got some big defensive stops and that's really been a big part of our season is that we've gotten better defensively," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said.
That came for Buffalo Grove (16-11, 7-3) after seeing a pair of 8-point first-half leads go by the wayside. The Huskies (14-13, 6-4) would pull to within one (24-23) thanks to a 7-0 run over the final 2:57 of the first-half that featured 3s from seniors Rocco Ronzio and Ryan Verhulst.
It laid the foundation for a second half of play that saw neither team hold a lead bigger than four points when two Ronzio charity tosses gave the hosts a 55-51 advantage with 29 seconds left in regulation.
Enter Buffalo Grove's Matthew Brunelli into the drama. The 5-11 junior reserve proceeded to recover a missed Bison shot and drain it from beyond the arc to bring the visitors within 55-54 12 ticks later. After Ronzio connected on one of two at the foul line with 14 seconds left, Brunelli (12 points) responded by making 2 of 3 foul shots after he was fouled attempting a game-winning trey with three ticks left that knotted things up at 56. A Matt Hanushewsky game-winning attempt from beyond the arc clanked off the back of the rim at the buzzer to force the extra session.
After Hanushewsky connected with a pair of foul shots that gave the Huskies their last lead at 58-56 with 3:21 left in overtime, it would be Adams' heroics that brought home the win for BG.
The 5-11 Adams, who was at the controls for back-to back playoff teams for the Bison in each of the past two seasons tied the game at 58 on a driving layup with 1:28 to play. Then, he picked up a loose ball with roughly a minute remaining that gave them possession of the basketball where in the waning seconds of the extra session, he found Kipley for his 11th and 12th points of the night.
"I just tried to step up and do my best and work with my teammates," Adams, who finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds, said. "This is a team game and no one man can do everything."
Junior Nate Cole, who led the Bison in the scoring column with 13 points, likes the direction his team is heading into the postseason.
"I think we're definitely excited for what's to come," Cole said. "At the beginning of the season like coach was saying you probably wouldn't thought the group that we had on the court could win a conference game, so I think it excites us and I think it shows we can still do something."
Ronzio, a Carroll College commit, led the Huskies with 19, followed by senior center Jake Kluczewski with 10 points and 14 rebounds.