Boys Basketball: Buffalo Grove holds off Wheeling
Updated: January 21, 2012 11:20PM
When Buffalo Grove and Wheeling first met on Dec. 16, Buffalo Grove sprinted to a 43-8 lead and coasted to an easy 82-40 victory.
When the two teams squared off again on Saturday night, the Bison came out of the gates firing again, taking an 18-3 lead in the first six minutes. It looked like another blowout and another huge loss in a disappointing season for the Wildcats.
But Wheeling ran off a 10-0 run in the second quarter to close the gap to eight at halftime, then fought all the way back to take its first lead with under four minutes to go in the third.
After some tense moments in the final stanza, Buffalo Grove (6-12, 2-4 Mid-Suburban East) was able to stave off the rally and eke out a 57-52 win over its rival.
“We figured this would be a competitive game,” Buffalo Grove coach Ryan O’Connor said. “Some weird things happened last time and Wheeling has been playing better basketball. I don’t think we got complacent, but they were hitting some shots and it’s simple, but that’s how the momentum changed.
“We showed a lot of character at the end. There have been a number of games where we’ve been tied or within two points late and we just hadn’t been getting it done so far. The guys buckled down and we finally got over the hump. Hopefully, this is some momentum we can build off of.”
Wheeling (1-17, 1-5 MSL East), which got its first win of the year last Friday thanks to 36 points from sophomore guard Jeremy Stephani, scored the first eight points of the third quarter to tie the game at 32-32. Stephani hit a deep three from the left wing to give the Wildcats a 37-36 lead, but it would be his last points of the night.
The teams exchanged four ties and five lead changes over the next seven minutes until Luke Potnick (5 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) hit Andrew Apel with a no-look pass for a layup and a 46-44 Bison lead.
After Wheeling missed two free throws with the chance for the lead, Buffalo Grove guard Alex Fritz (15 points, 5 rebounds) made one freebie, then rebounded his own miss and made a layup to make it a two-possession game. Potnick made a steal to seal the deal and the Bison were finally able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
“I saw the second one was going to be a little off, and I knew that before anyone else,” Fritz said. “The two guys pinched in instead of boxing me out, so I thought I might as well run to the ball and make it a two-possession game.
“My assignment tonight was to guard Stephani in the second half. My goal was just not to let him touch the ball. Scoring is a secondary thing for me, so I just wanted to help us out wherever.”
Apel finished with 12 points and Sam Wacker added 11 points and six rebounds to complement Fritz. Rich Zirngibl chipped in eight points and a game-high eight rebounds for Buffalo Grove.
Stephani led all scorers with 17 points on five three-pointers, while Charlie Kirk added 14 points and five rebounds for Wheeling in the loss.