Looking back on the Buffalo Grove girls basketball team’s season, you can forget about its 12-15 record in the regular season.
Simply put, the Bison caught fire in the Class 4A playoffs, winning their own regional as the No. 11 seed while upsetting No. 3 Prospect and No. 6 Zion-Benton. Buffalo Grove finished the season 15-16 after losing in the Barrington Sectional semifinals to No. 2 seed Fremd in a game that was tied heading into the fourth quarter.
With perhaps five of its top seven players expected to return next year, another regional championship might not be the only thing the Bison are thinking about.
“There’s no reason why we can’t compete for the supersectional or make it downstate,” said Buffalo Grove sophomore Maddie Welter, who led the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game. “Everyone has to step up and work hard in the offseason.”
Buffalo Grove should also return its second-leading scorer, junior forward Maddy Callahan (9.8 ppg), who led the team in rebounding at 6.4 boards per game. Welter paced the Bison with 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists.
Other probable returnees include starting point guard Bri Kolbus and sophomore forward Sammy Stejskal. Junior Julie Jambrone entered this season as the team’s leading returning scorer, only to break her foot and be limited to the final 13 games of the season.
“We’re really excited for next year,” Callahan said. “Maddie is a knockdown shooter. Julie will be back [scoring], Bri is ball handling and defense and Sammy is defense and rebounding.”
Of course the losses will be felt with Kim Herzog, Courtney Meyer, Angela Budimir and Stephanie Leitner all graduating. Herzog’s ball-hawking defense and Meyer’s timely rebounding, in particular, played key roles in the playoff run.
“The playoffs weren’t so much of a shock to us as it was to everyone else,” Meyer said. “It was really awesome. Next year the team can go even further.”
The end of the regular season did provide an ignition to winning five of the final six games. Buffalo Grove easily defeated Elk Grove on senior night and followed that up with a crossover victory against Schaumburg.
“The Elk Grove game was a huge turning point,” Buffalo Grove coach Stephen Kolodziej said. “It was a springboard for us. In those last six games we were extremely efficient.”
Kolodziej added, “It’s tough losing four seniors, but what we did at the end of the season should motivate them [the returnees]. I’m excited. The kids are excited. But, the kids have to be committed to the game of basketball and work at it year round.”