Late surge sends Vernon Hills past Buffalo Grove
With neither team leading by more than four points until the final 11 seconds of the game, Monday night's nonconference battle between host Buffalo Grove and Vernon Hills was a very close, back-and-forth basketball game the whole way.
A rebound basket by Buffalo Grove's Alex Beihoffer cut the Cougars' lead to 62-60 with 25.2 seconds to play. But Vernon Hills hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 22.4 seconds of the contest to pull away with a 67-60 victory.
Vernon Hills was outstanding from the foul line with 17-for-19 overall (89%) while Buffalo Grove (8-10) hit 1-oF-3.
The Cougars led 15-14 after one quarter, and 28-27 at halftime before heading into the fourth quarter in a 47-47 deadlock.
A driving basket by Beihoffer gave the Bison their final lead at 56-54 with 4:22 to play before Vernon Hills' Erik Rimas (12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) grabbed his own rebound and scored to give the Cougars the lead for good at 58-56 with two minutes remaining.
"I think that showed that is a senior group from Vernon Hills who have won close game, and we didn't make enough plays," said Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson. "We have to play as a group, and we have to have a couple more guys make a couple more plays."
Vernon Hills senior Justin St. Louis had a big game with 15 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. Milan Rival hit double figures with 15 points for the Cougars with strong scoring support from teammates Rimas and Max Brusso (11 points, 5 assists).
"We were coming off a tough loss to Niles North, and I think we did a very good job on defense too," said St. Louis. "At the end of the game we were able to get the rebounds, and I think we did a good job of executing our game plan."
Buffalo Grove had very balanced scoring as Connor Woodin had 12 points followed by Aidan Romanski with 11 points, Beihoffer with 10, and Adidas Davis with 10. Kyle Grote chipped in 6 points for the Bison.
"We found a way to take that two-point lead right around the two-minute mark and we put it away with some clutch free throw shooting," said Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty, whose team had 28 rebounds overall. "Justin (St. Louis) played probably his best game of the season tonight."