LOMBARD – For a team having a rough season, Glenbard East sure showed a lot of heart in playing one of its best stretches of the season late in Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference game with visiting Fenton.
The Bison led for most of the first three quarters against a three-win Rams team. But the home team started off the final quarter with a 3-pointer by Jack Ryan and then stormed away with a 50-43 come-from-behind win to improve to 4-5 in the UEC and 4-14 overall.
Ryan’s 3 was followed by a putback from Tyrese Buffkin and a 3-pointer from Trevor Rehnstrom that capped off a 19-7 run that started in the third quarter and sparked the Rams, who outscored Fenton 17-7 in the final period to pull out the victory.
“I thought we had a lot of momentum going in the fourth quarter and we built off that really well,” said Ryan, a junior guard who scored 12 points. “Once we got something going, it was uphill from there. I think we’re really going to build off this one after all the guys see what can happen when we win like that.”
The Bison (7-11, 3-4) led 25-20 at the half with sophomores Xavior Gonzalez and Alejandro Diaz combing for 17 points through the first two quarters. Fenton led by seven early in the third quarter after a short jumper by Gonzalez made the score 29-22, but the Rams picked up their play on both ends of the floor from there and came away with the victory.
“We really did a nice job, only gave up seven points in the fourth quarter. I thought that was the best we played in the second half all year under some adversity,” Glenbard East coach Al Biancalana said. “We made some big baskets when we had to and that’s been kind of missing all season long.”
The defense also stepped up, holding Gonzalez to just one basket in the second half, while Buffkin and Aleks Jajic controlled the boards, limiting Fenton’s second chances. Buffkin finished the night with game highs of 19 points and 13 boards, while Jajic had seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end in the second half alone.
“The main thing was our rotations (on defense) and containing Gonzalez and Caleb Lewis,” Buffkin said. “Those are their best players and they get hot quickly. They’re streaky shooters, so we had to lock them down, we got on the boards and we came down with the W.”
Fenton coach Tim O’Connell knows his young team needs to get better at protecting and holding onto leads.
“That’s something that we’re working through. We’re kind of a younger team and we’re learning how to play with a lead and how to keep our composure a little bit,” he said. “They came back at us and we couldn’t hit shots in the fourth quarter. They hit a few 3s and it kind of got away from us a little, but I love the way our kids fought and never let up.”
Diaz did finish 15 points and three assists to pace the Bison.