Buffalo Grove downs Geneva for Hardwood consolation title
It wasn't the way that Buffalo Grove wanted to start.
But the Bison will take their ending at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic.
On Saturday night, Buffalo Grove finished its four-game tournament run with a 60-49 victory over Geneva in the consolation championship game. After losing to Fremd on the first day, the Bison won three straight games to finish 3-1 and earn their best showing ever at Wheeling.
"This was a good learning experience for us," said Buffalo Grove sophomore star guard Kam Craft, who finished with a game-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers. "Losing is the first round was a letdown, but we were playing against a bunch of different teams, a bunch of different defenses so we were learning every game, getting better every game.
"And we're on a roll right now, winning a lot of games."
Buffalo Grove (11-3) bounced back at Wheeling with three straight wins over Waukegan, Wheeling and then Geneva.
Down 15-12 to Geneva after the first quarter, the Bison made their move with an aggressive second-quarter defense that forced 6 Geneva turnovers. Buffalo Grove used some easy baskets off those turnovers to take a 29-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Bison kept the lead for the rest of the game, going up by as many as 17 points early in the fourth quarter. Craft got a 9-0 Buffalo Grove run going with a steal and layup and Tyler Fricke and Tyler Kipley each added 3-pointers.
Kipley finished with 13 points and Fricke had 6 points. Nate Cole chipped in 9 points. Overall, the Bison got points from seven players.
"We had a lot of guys step up and do a lot of good things," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "We got some good contributions off the bench. That's what it takes in a big tournament like this, eight, nine, 10 guys going and we showed that today.
"We're disappointed with how our first night ended up but our guys kept grinding. We challenged them to go out and win a championship and they did."
Geneva got double-figures out of three players, led by Drew Johnson, who finished with 16 points. Nathan Valentine added 15 points and Dylan Fuzak had 10 points.
The Vikings (7-5) were playing without four key players, Josh Preston, Quin McNeive, Mason Mascari and Zach Puklin, all out with injury or illness.
"We were missing a bunch of guys but we still played really hard," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. "We tried to take Kam (Craft) away but he's such a good player and he still got 18 points plus (Buffalo Grove) had other guys step up, too.
"I was happy with our effort though. I think we got better over this tournament. I think we learned a lot."