Ben Tietz, an eighth-grader at St. Mary Catholic School in Buffalo Grove, led his team in a come-from-behind basketball playoff game win over St. Anne of Barrington, scoring 40 of the team's 57 points.
St. Anne controlled the game for most of the first half, in which Ben had 10 of his points in the Northwest Catholic Conference playoff game Feb. 9 at St. Francis in Lake Zurich.
After trailing by 10 points at halftime, the Bison of St. Mary staged a furious comeback. Pressing for most of the second half, St. Mary generated a lot of steals, which resulted in a barrage of three pointers and transition baskets.
St. Anne refused to go away and mounted a rally of their own with strong inside play. Clutch free throws in the last two minutes by Ben and Ethan Press sealed the victory for St Mary's. The Bison also received strong performances from Sam Marchiafava, Johnny Daul, Freddie Adkins, Josh Gleason, Martin Faulkiner and Ethan Press.
The final score was 57-51. Scores in the 50s are unusual for middle school basketball games, and for a player at that age to tally 40 points is even more unusual. Ben's previous season high had been 29 points versus South Junior High in Arlington Heights.
Ben's 40 points consisted of 11 twos, 2 threes and 12 free throws. Most of his points came from twisting drives to the basket, in which he had to finish against multiple players. This aggressive penetration also earned him 17 attempts from the charity stripe.
Several people commented after the game that it didn't "feel" like Ben had 40 points because he took all good shots and made a high percentage of them.
Ben's dad, Jerry Tietz, has coached the team since the kids were in fifth grade.