Buffalo Grove uses homecourt advantage to down Hersey
Home and away.
Those words couldn't have a better meaning when to describe the schedules of Buffalo Grove and Hersey thus far on the 2019-20 season.
Aided by their own Thanksgiving tournament, the Bison have had 7 of their first 10 games on their home floor while the Huskies will have played 13 of their first 15 contests away from their home court when they return home next weekend from their annual holiday trek to Pekin for its long-running tourney.
That homecourt advantage provided by its fans enabled Buffalo Grove to go on a late run to post a 64-50 triumph Friday night over a pugilistic Hersey squad. The win allows BG (8-2, 3-0) to keep its share of the Mid-Suburban East lead heading into the holiday break.
"Hersey is a good team. They've been battling everybody," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "I knew our run would come. It took us a long time, but we eventually got there. We had a lot of guys step up tonight and do some good things."
The Bison took that step in the final 3:53 by going on a 14-4 run that broke open a tight game. It began after Hersey (3-7, 1-2) pulled within 50-46 on a Griffin Ginder drive inside the paint. Tyler Kipley connected on 1 of 2 free throws, followed by consecutive steals from junior reserve Steph Harris which he turned into a layup and sophomore Kam Craft's successful theft which ended with a slam dunk that opened up a 55-46 advantage with 2:08 left.
After a pair of Andrew Wagner free throws got the Huskies within 55-48 with 1:57 left, Craft added a second slam in the middle of a 6-0 tear that settled matters. That came in between a Nate Cole hoop and two Matt Brunelli free throws, leaving the home team up 61-48 with 66 seconds left.
The trio of Craft (18 points), Cole (15 points), and Brunelli (11 points) paced the Bison effort which Craft credited to a defense that forced 23 turnovers and held Hersey to just 45 percent shooting (18-for-40) on the night.
"Our offense wasn't clicking very well tonight and we didn't shoot well," Craft said. "Our defense held us together. We got stops when we needed to. We got some clutch steals in the second half that really closed out the game for us."
Junior Ethan Roberts led Hersey with 16 points.
Hersey coach Austin Scott spotlighted the pluses of his team's effort as it travels to Lake Forest where he previously served as an assistant Saturday evening before facing Moline in round one of the Pekin Holiday Tournament Thursday afternoon.
"First of all they're great kids who continue to improve and do some things well," Scott said. "We get some positive contributions out of a lot of guys. Everybody does a little bit of everything. We're tremendously plagued by very important facets of basketball. We'll get it corrected."
Meanwhile, as Buffalo Grove begins opening round play Monday evening at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic versus Fremd, Peterson took the opportunity to evaluate his team after its first 10 games on the season.
"Every game we've played so far has really been competitive. We haven't had an easy game per se," Peterson said. "The two teams we lost to (Glenbrook South and Naperville Central) had one loss going into tonight. We're just finding a way to win with different guys stepping up to make plays."