Knights Stun Bison in Regional Championship

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Rick Lytle, Online Editor-in-Chief

Prospect was up 30-23 heading into the fourth quarter, something many in the arena would not have predicted at the beginning of the night, but also certainly not an insurmountable lead given Buffalo Grove’s high powered offense led by sophomore Kam Craft. Craft, who averaged 23 points per game this season, had just eight at the time, and it felt like only so long before he broke out of his slump.

 

“You’re never going to stop [Craft], the hope is to contain him,” Head Coach John Camardella said.

 

Prospect didn’t show any signs of letting up in the fourth quarter. Early in the quarter, a steal by Chase Larsen on a pass to Craft led to a breakaway layup at the other end, a 10-point Prospect lead, and a timeout from Buffalo Grove in a last ditch attempt to stop Prospect’s momentum. It was too late. Prospect outscored the Bison 15-3 in the fourth quarter en route to a stunning 45-26 win in the regional final matchup. The 11th seeded Knights pulled off their second straight upset, last game over the sixth seeded Barrington Broncos, this game over the third seeded Buffalo Grove Bison.

 

“Man am I proud of the guys. I talk for a living … and I’m sort of at a loss for words for how proud I am of the effort of this team,” Camardella said.

 

The teams played each other twice earlier in the season: Buffalo Grove won both times and scored 63 and 72 points in those two games. They averaged 65 points per game this season, making the Knight’s defensive stand that much more impressive.

 

Junior Luke Zardzin has been the breakout player of the regional for Prospect. Despite getting his first start of the season on Wednesday in the regional semi-final, he shut down Barrington’s key scorer Damian Zivak. This game, he guarded Buffalo Grove’s Nate Cole, a player that had been Craft’s go-to guy in previous meetings with the Knights when he was being shut down. Cole was held scoreless by a combination of Zardzin and Ben Ozowski.

 

Chase Larsen deserves much credit as well, holding a budding star in Craft to just 11 points, while scoring 17 points himself.

 

“It was really a team effort. We threw everything we could at him, the whole kitchen sink … threw the whole playbook at him and just wanted to frustrate him the whole game,” Larsen said. “But credit to him, he has a very bright future.”

 

Buffalo Grove looked to take their first lead of the game early in the third quarter, but a Larsen three to make it 23-19 and then a Marco Shaw three to make it 30-21 kept it at a multiple possession game.

 

Throughout, Buffalo Grove was simply frustrated and Prospect and their fans simply electrified. When it seemed Buffalo Grove might flip the game, a Prospect steal or forced jump ball always seemed to flip the momentum back into Prospect’s favor.

 

The Knights now get to head home, as they are the hosts of the Sectional. They will face the second seeded and 28-4 Mundelein Mustangs on March 10 at Jean Walker Fieldhouse.

 

Zardzin, similar to his coach, seemed to be at a loss for words.

“It’s really surreal,” Zardzin said.