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Billy Buchanan lifts Evergreen Park past Lemont

On a team full of star guards, Billy Buchanan He wants to be the big guy who puts everything together for Evergreen Park.

The senior forward sets the tone for the Mustangs when it comes to doing the dirty work.

“I think I’m more important in helping tie things together rather than just my body,” Buchanan said. “I’m coming back and when people see me coming back, they’re coming back. When there is someone inside, everything comes together.

“When I’m down, I can set an example for everyone to follow.”

Buchanan had a great performance with 14 points and nine rebounds on Tuesday night as Evergreen Park defeated host Lemont 64-49 in the South Suburban Conference.

Three Dowdells He led the Mustangs (19-9, 9-3 SSC Red) with 24 points and 7 rebounds. Ulises Cardenas And Nolan Sexton They each added 11 points.

Shea Glotzbach Lemont finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds (16-11, 9-3 SSC Blue). Ryan Runaas scored nine points and Klaidas Paskauskas participated with seven.

Evergreen Park ruined Lemont’s chances of capturing at least a share of the SSC Blue title. Lemont can still get a piece of the pie with a win against Bremen on Friday.

Buchanan, meanwhile, doesn’t see scoring goals as one of his top priorities. But he made three inside baskets in the first quarter to help the Mustangs advance.

Evergreen Park closed the first quarter ahead 18-13, increased the lead to 38-28 at halftime, and led by at least nine points throughout the second half.

“I know I don’t have to worry about scoring,” Buchanan said. “We have a team full of strikers. But we had the matchup advantage and when we have that we can be dangerous.”

Lemont’s Simas Dyglys (11) looks to recover during a defense of Evergreen Park’s Tre Dowdell during a South Suburban Conference crossover game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Lemont. (James C. Svehla/Daily Southtown)

Evergreen Park coach Jim Sexton He said the Mustangs were looking at Buchanan more often.

“Most of our sets were designed for guards, but we added more for Billy as we progressed,” he said. “We usually go to Billy early just to get him going. It makes him more aggressive on the offensive boards. He runs the floor well. He protects well.”

Nolan Sexton has been blown away by how much Buchanan has improved to become a key factor for the Mustangs.

“I always tell him he’s made such a big leap,” Nolan said. “He’s been great for us all season. He still has his Billy moments, but he’s given us so much more than I expected.”

Nolan and Jim Sexton convinced an uncertain Buchanan to play AAU at Chicago LockDown this summer. Buchanan said it all started here.

“I was planning on taking the summer off outside of high school prom, but coach talked me into it,” Buchanan said. I played on a good team and Nolan was on the team with me.

“I had a lot of growth over the summer and that has continued.”

Evergreen Park's Billy Buchanan (30) defends a shot from Lemont's Shea Glotzbach during a basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Lemont.  (James C. Svehla-Daily Southtown)User Upload Caption: Tk
Evergreen Park’s Billy Buchanan (30) defends as Lemont’s Shea Glotzbach shoots in a South Suburban Conference crossover game on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Lemont. (James C. Svehla/Daily Southtown)

Buchanan also plays golf at Evergreen Park.

“I just play golf for fun,” Buchanan said. “A lot of the kids on the golf team also play basketball, so it’s a good bond to get ready for the season.

“Playing golf is a lot more frustrating than playing basketball, which helps me on the course and keeps me calm.”

Of course, there’s little reason for Buchanan or his coaches to be upset with his performance on the field this season.

“He took it upon himself,” Jim Sexton said. “Sometimes in the past when we would do all these breakdowns and drills in practice, he would jump in. Now he’s really focused on being physical and finishing around the basket.

“I think he gained some good confidence in the summer and has carried that on. He’s been playing great for us.”

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