By Marty Farmer
The Riverside-Brookfield girls basketball team might be the most pleasant surprise in local high school sports.
The Bulldogs reeled off four wins last week, improving to 12-1 this season with a relatively new starting lineup. A balanced offensive approach and stingy defense have paved the way to success.
"We played some good teams at the Oak Lawn Christmas Tournament this past week," RBHS junior forward/center Maddie Meehan said. "Everyone really worked super hard despite a little fatigue from the number of games we had. We all came in with the attitude that every team is beatable, and that every game can be won if we give it all we have. I think that contributed a lot to not only three tournament wins, but a conference win (against Fenton) as well."
Freshman guard Brenna Loftus had 23 points, six rebounds and three steals during Saturday's 51-46 over Sandburg at the Oak Lawn Tournament. Sarah JnoBaptiste recorded a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Meehan dominated the glass with 18 rebounds to go with eight points and four assists.
"Having so many difference contributors is one of the reasons this team works so well," Loftus said. "It's a critical part of how this team functions. No matter who is on the court, they can be relied for their strengths in different parts of the game."
JnoBaptiste had a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards as RBHS put four players in double figures scoring against host Fenton. Consequently, the Bulldogs cruised to an 87-56 victory.
"Winning is always fun," JnoBaptiste said. "We adjusted well while missing players, and other players stepped up and rose to the occasion when needed. We're continuing to play as a team and score off our defense."
Ashley Rivera (19 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals), Loftus (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Meehan (11 points, 11 rebounds) also played key roles in defeating the Bison.
"There are a lot of benefits for having many contributors," JnoBaptiste said. "We don't have to rely on certain players for certain things. When players are gone, we can still play well without them."
RBHS controlled the tempo with 17 fastbreak points and 26 points off turnovers.
The Bulldogs defeated Oak Lawn 49-36 and Romeoville 57-33 in other games last week.
"Our upcoming conference games will be challenging, but we are continuing to go into games with the mindset that we can beat any team," Meehan said. "We are ready for some good and challenging matchups."