Craft scores 34 as Buffalo Grove downs Libertyville
For a kid who just poured in 34 points, who just broke the 1,000-point barrier for his career last weekend -- as a sophomore -- and whose game is improving in all phases Kam Craft, postgame after a 69-60 nonconference boys basketball win Wednesday night over visiting Libertyville, was pretty mellow and laid back.
His team and his teammates come first.
"My teammates did a good job getting me the ball, setting screens," he said first.
And he wanted to talk about what they mean to the team and his success in rounding out his game.
Take his near third quarter-closing find of Alex Solberg for a big 3-pointer, or his opening the fourth quarter with a similar feed to Tyler Kipley for another 3 and a lead BG would never surrender after being tied 45-45 after three quarters.
"I love to play in space," Craft said." I love to find my teammates open. We have some great spot-up shooters," like Solberg, Kipley, Steph Harris and Matt Brunetti, all of whom had 3-pointers to go with Krafts six.
It was too much for a tall, talented Libertyville team to overcome as the Wildcats battled foul trouble and their own misses which became transition opportunities for the Bison (20-5).
"When he's shooting the ball like that (6 of 8 on 3-pointers)," said Bison coach Keith Peterson, "he's so solid and so steady and does so many good things for us," like get Solberg, Kipley, Brunetti and Harris open.
But when BG went flat from the floor in the face of tough defense from Libertyville in the middle quarters, BG fell back on its own defense to stay in the game. From Tyler Fricke diving for a loose ball with just seconds left in the game to closing out on Libertyville shooters in the fourth quarter (5 of 13 from the floor), Buddalo Grove played a complete game. Perfect free-throw shooting by Craft, Kipley and Brunetti in the fourth quarter sealed the win.
"Good players find ways," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said afterward, tipping a cap to Craft. "Congratulations to him on scoring 1,000 points. That's a big accomplishment."
But it wasn't why BG beat his Wildcats (14-7), who could meet up again in sectional play.
"We had some good looks and we didn't hit them and BG made us pay," Zyrkowski said.
Patrick Graham, the team's 6-foot-4 senior leader being in foul trouble didn't help either, but Zyrkowski had no choice but to leave him in the game.
"You don't take a player like that off the floor," the coach said, even though he fouled out midway through the fourth with 10 points, the pain on his face obvious after the eliminating call.
Chase Bonder, a sophomore who has worked his way into the starting lineup, lit up the Bison with 21 points, the big center showing his versatility with a trio of 3-pointers, perfect free-throw shooting and solid rebounding.
"He's put up 12-and-a-half points a game for us the last 10 games. His work ethic is strong," Zyrkowski said.
It wasn't enough though to overcome BG's depth and contributions from everyone who hit the floor. But Craft wants more, especially from himself.
"I'm just trying to become a more complete player," said the 6-4 sophomore. "We've got to focus on defense. Obviously, we've got shooters, so we're working on (defense)."