Boys Basketball: Batavia, led by Cole Gardner, down Buffalo Grove
Updated: December 21, 2011 2:57PM
It was pretty easy to tell when Batavia senior Cole Gardner was in the game Tuesday against Buffalo Grove and when he was sitting out with foul woes.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, he did enough damage when he was in the game to propel them to a 51-49 win over the Bison to set up an Elgin Holiday Tournament semifinal showdown with LaPorte, Ind. powerhouse LaLumiere Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.
“It’s rough when you’re big, because some of the fouls you get are because you’re bigger than everybody else,” Gardner said. “It’s hard. I have to change that. I have to be more careful.”
Gardner scored a game-high 17 points before fouling out with 2:53 left in the game and his team clinging to a 43-39 lead. But Zach Strittmatter, who also wound up fouling out after scoring 14 points, scored four key points and Batavia went 7-for-8 as a team from the free-throw line down the stretch to hold off Buffalo Grove.
“Hopefully it makes us mentally tougher, because those are fouls,” Batavia coach Jim Roberts said. “We try to get across to the kids that the fouls that foul you out aren’t your first fouls. We got early fouls because we didn’t move our feet, because we weren’t in position. Let’s be honest. And we have to get better at that.”
A 14-2 run that stretched into the second quarter gave Batavia (4-5) early command of the game, 17-6. But Buffalo Grove (4-7) was able to take advantage of the fact that Gardner was out with two fouls to end the half on a 16-3 run, with 12 points coming on lay-ups with Gardner out of the middle, to take a 22-20 lead into the half.
In the third, however, Gardner took over for Batavia. He scored 11 points in the quarter to help Batavia take a 34-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t have a great first half, so I knew I had to help the team,” Gardner said.