BUFFALO GROVE – You don’t get assists on defense in basketball.
But don’t tell that to Buffalo Grove girls basketball coach Martha Kelly.
She practically wanted to invent a hoops statistic – let’s call it an ‘S.O.S’ number, for fun – after BG’s 43-31 nonconference win over Jacobs on Wednesday night.
“Our help defense was fantastic,” Kelly said. “We had two, sometimes three, girls doing all they could to assist their teammates on defense all night.
“Grace Veller, what a tremendous job she did on [Jacobs’ fine 5-foot-8 junior guard Mackenzie Leahy],” said Kelly, referring to her reserve 5-6 guard. “Grace is such a great athlete who brought energy tonight. Our whole team did.”
Veller, who happened to have statistics homework Wednesday night, scored only two points, but her two deflections caused two turnovers in the second quarter, and four of her teammates (Leah McKenna, Abby Thiessen, Hanna Glanz and Kim Stuercke) each had a steal in the quarter.
BG (3-5) limited Jacobs to three points in the quarter and led, 26-12, at halftime. BG enjoyed its biggest lead (32-13) at the 3:32 mark of the third quarter.
“I stayed on [Leahy’s hip] as best as I could,” said Veller, a three-sport athlete. “Communication is important on defense. We never stopped talking. We also never stopped helping where we were needed.”
McKenna finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter, when Jacobs (2-4) used an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 37-28 with 1:52 left.
The effort upped McKenna’s double-double total to two. She came down with a season-high 13 boards in her first double-double against Palatine last month.
“Leah is always going up for us,” said Veller. “You can always count on her.”
BG’s Stuercke, a 5-11 senior, tied McKenna for game-high scoring honors with 11 points. 6-foot Bison senior Cassidy Green struck for nine points and had seven rebounds and two blocks.
Leahy and senior forward Janaya Banks paced the Golden Eagles with nine points apiece. Banks grabbed a team-best eight rebounds, with Leahy and junior guard Arianna Corrado (five points) right behind her with seven each.
Eagles junior guard Anelise Rodriguez collected a game-high four steals in a highly-physical contest. The teams combined for 57 steals, at least.
“We challenged our players at the half to find ways to stay competitive,” said Jacobs coach Jon Reibel, who played hoops at Hoffman Estates in the early 2000s. “We told them, ‘Let’s get back out there and make it a game,’ which we did. Which I really liked.
“Instead of folding, we got back in it. We need that kind of effort every quarter.”