By Marty Farmer
With the loss of four-year starting guards Samantha Bloom and Lyndsey Hoyd plus post player Maggie Shereck to graduation, the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls varsity basketball team will have a new identity this season.
Head coach Dallas Till's job is to discover it.
"We have had a pretty solid core of players the last four years," Till said. "It's all a bit new to me and our coaching staff this season with such a young team. We're trying to figure who we are as a team and what's best for us. There will be some rough spots, but our hope is to improve each day and play our best basketball in conference and the state playoffs."
Considering the Bulldogs return only two seniors in center Vasara Kulbis and guard Alyssa Alvarado, patience will be required as the team evolves.
Although the Bulldogs lack star power relative to recent seasons, talent and depth exist on the roster.
Along with Kulbis, junior forward Maddie Meehan, freshman forward Brenna Loftus, senior guard Ashley Rivera and sophomore guard Sarah Jnobaptiste comprise the starting lineup.
Kulbis and Meehan will be called upon to provide an interior presence and plenty of scoring and rebounding. Meehan runs the floor well and can also score from midrange.
Loftus is a very promising freshman who is an all-court player.
"Obviously, we think pretty highly of Brenna since she's starting as a freshman," Till said. "She can play the three of four spot. She handles the ball well and had a nice mid-range jump shot."
Rivera and Jnobaptiste replace the superb backcourt of Bloom and Hoyd. Rivera will run the offense, while Jnobaptiste should provide scoring on the perimeter.
As for the bench, expect all hands on deck. Till likes the depth of his team this year and will game plan accordingly.
"I'll be playing a higher rotation of kids," Till said. "Our talent level may not be as high, but we feel like we have deeper roster."
Guards Leah Rettke, Cassie Hines, Angelina Ocampo, Mary Maloney, Elizabeth Murphy and Alvarado, along with forwards Natalie Leon, Sylvia Harvin and Georgiana Gomorczak could all see playing time this season.
In the first half of the season, RBHS plays 13 of 15 games on the road. The Bulldogs return home Dec. 26-30 to host their annual Christmas tournament. The rest of the season consists of heavy conference play.
"I like to play a lot of tournaments on the road early in the season," Till said. "It helps us build our team. I want to see who the gamers are and who can make plays."
In terms of the Metro Suburban Conference race, there may not be one according to Till.
"Glenbard South is loaded. They return all their key players," he said. "No disrespect to the other teams, but they should win the conference comfortably. There is parity in the rest of the league with a lot of good teams in the conference."