Craft, Buffalo Grove take MSL East showdown with Rolling Meadows
Buffalo Grove's Kam Craft showed that he is wiser beyond his years Friday in Rolling Meadows.
Craft, who is a sophomore, scored 14 points in the second quarter. With Rolling Meadows focused on stopping him, he took a step back and let his teammates go to the basket.
The approach paid huge dividends as the Bison pulled away in the third quarter. That enabled Buffalo Grove (15-4, 5-0) to take over sole possession of first place in the Mid-Suburban East with an 80-70 boys basketball win over Rolling Meadows.
"I thought as great as Kam played in the first half, he made the right passes when he needed to," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "We have a lot of good pieces and we find the right guy at the right time. The way they were packing on Kam because he was so hot ... our guys did a good job of spacing out and getting to the basket."
The near capacity crowd which braved the snowy roads, was not disappointed with the first place battle and the showdown between two of the area's top players. Craft finished with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks while Meadows junior standout Max Christie had 30 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks and 3 steals.
Craft kept the Bison in the game with his 14-point output in the second quarter. He drilled four 3-pointers but his team trailed 36-32 at the half.
"We came out slow," Craft said. "I got a little bit hot. My teammates stepped up. They started keying on me a little bit and opened up everyone else and they started to roll from there. "
Steps Harris was the biggest beneficiary of the open court for the Bison. Harris, who is a junior, came off the bench to score 8 of his 16 points in the third quarter.
"We know teams are keying in on Kam," Harris said. "So we want to come in and play our roles and do whatever we can to get the win. It was so much fun."
Buffalo Grove scored the first 6 points of the second half to pull ahead 38-36.
Rolling Meadows (11-5, 4-1) got its final lead when Jonah Ogunsanya hit a 3 from the corner to make it 39-38. That, however, would be the only shot that the Mustangs would convert in the first 6:28 of the quarter as Meadows would miss on eight other shots and turn the ball over three times.
With Harris, Nate Cole, Tyler Fricke and Matt Brunelli going hard to the basket for the Bison, Buffalo Grove would go on a 20-5 run to close out the quarter with a 58-44 lead.
"It was probably our worst quarter of the year," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "There were just too many breakdowns, especially on defense. It was very uncharacteristic."
Christie, who would score 15 points in the final period, tried to bring the Mustangs back. They got to within 9 at 70-61 with 3:22 to play. But a basket by Harris and a pair of free throws and a bucket by Craft put the game away.
"It was a hard loss," Christie said. "We have a quick turnaround against Maine West, so we are just focused on the next game."
Brunelli had 12 points, Cole had 10 points while Fricke and Tyler Kipley each had 7 points for the Bison, who have a 10 a.m. contest with Round Lake on Saturday at the Lake Zurich MLK Tournament.
Ogunsanya had 14 points for Meadows while Daniel Sobkowicz and Cameron Christie each had 7 points for the Mustangs.
Before the game, the Rolling Meadows state quarterfinal team from 1989-90 was honored. That team finished the season with the current school record of 28 wins.