Buffalo Grove hangs on, downs Palatine for consolation title
Early afternoon games can give teams fits. Palatine and Buffalo Grove can attest to that.
Buffalo Grove's boys basketball team had a huge lead, then saw it completely disappear before rallying to top the Pirates 50-47 in the consolation title game of the Lake Zurich MLK Classic Monday.
"I thought our pace helped us at the beginning of the game," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "They out-executed us down the stretch. We made enough plays at the end there."
Buffalo Grove (17-4) was cruising along. The Bison scored the game's first 10 points and built a 30-9 lead with 5:01 left in the first half lead thanks to the play of Kam Craft, who knocked down five of his six 3-pointers in the first half.
"We got off to a hot start," said Craft, who would finish with 20 points. "In the first quarter we began with a real good run. Palatine then began to claw back."
That's when Palatine (11-9) began to stir.
Led by Julian Campbell, who would finish with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, the Pirates made a move. They pulled to within 12 early in the third quarter on a basket by Campbell to close to 30-18.
The Bison shook off Palatine, thanks to 3-pointers by Tyler Fricke and Craft and opened up a 40-22 lead with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
That's when Palatine climbed out of bed.
Campbell, the 6-foot-7 junior, began to use his size to create space inside. And when he wasn't scoring around the basket, Tommy Swanson, Connor Aikman and Shailan Rajpurkar found scoring room themselves. Palatine ran off 18 consecutive points and tied it at 40-40 on a basket by Rajpurkar with 5:43 to play.
And the Pirates weren't done.
After Buffalo Grove's Nate Cole put the Bison back on top, Campbell came up with a 3-point play and suddenly, with 4:14 left to play, they Pirates led 43-42.
It was Cole's play down the stretch that enabled Buffalo Grove to pull the game out.
The 6-foot-4 senior pulled down a key offensive rebound and turned it into a 3-point play as the Bison pulled ahead 45-43. Then, with his team leading 48-45, he grabbed another offensive rebound after a missed free throw.
"This season my role has changed and I have to guard some bigger guys," said Cole, who finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds. "I worked with coach on it a lot. I was just trying to box out there and trying to help the team."
Steps Harris followed with a pair of free throws to give the Bison a 50-45 lead with 39.8 seconds left. Aikman scored on a layup with 12.4 second left to make it 50-47. After a missed free throw by Buffalo Grove, Palatine had a chance to tie, but Campbell's long 3-pointer was just off the mark.
"We deserved every bit what we got the first part of the game," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "I thought we showed some good fight and resolve in the second half. But it is easy to look back on that. We weren't ready to play."