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Whether you're a high school hoops fanatic, casual fan or simply a supportive family member/friend, the 10th Annual Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout offered something for everyone over the weekend.
With huge crowds on hand both Saturday and Sunday, Proviso East capped off the showcase for premier area basketball talent with a thrilling 72-69 win over Simeon in the championship game. Sterling Brown, the younger brother of NBA player Shannon Brown, scored 30 points to power the Pirates to their second straight RB shootout title (third overall). Paris Lee, who earned co-MVP recognition with Brown, scored 12 points and provided his customary leadership and quickness at the point guard position.
Playing without their star player Jabari Parker, widely regarded as the top high school player in the nation who recently appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, three-time defending state champion Simeon was led by Kendall Pollard's 19 points along with Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn, who both netted 19 points apiece. The silky smooth 6-foot-9 Parker played on Saturday, highlighted by a spectacular four-dunk performance during a 72-49 rout of Benet.
Morgan Park defeated Providence-St. Mel in the second place bracket, Benet cruised past Hillcrest 51-36 to take the third place crown, and Glenbard East knocked off Zion-Benton in the fourth place bracket title game.
Other notable performances from the shootout included: York scoring machine David Cohn torching Curie for 41 points (single game high points total), while Whitney Young 6-11 center Jahlil Okafor dropped 39 on Evanston.
The biggest winner of the weekend was the host Bulldogs who welcomed in the best players and teams in Chicago and the suburbs with flying colors. Much of the credit belongs to RB head coach Tom McCloskey and assistant coaches Dan Herbeck and Mike Reingruber along with several RB staff, volunteers and former players who helped work the tournament.
"This is a first class event," said Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce, a former NBA player. "The shootout is well run and provides great competition for teams as well as entertainment for the fans. We're thrilled we were able to win [the RB summer shootout]."
RB also enjoyed a successful weekend between the lines by winning two of three pool play games. With their full squad intact, the Bulldogs edged St. Ignatius 49-47 in sudden death overtime on Saturday. Damonta Henry hit a tough layup in traffic for the game winner, while center Miki Ljuboja scored a game-high 18 points and guard Eric Loury chipped in 13.
RB consolidated the win by pulling out a hard-fought 52-49 victory against highly regarded Hillcrest. The Bulldogs' only loss on the day was a 57-49 setback to Proviso East. Ljuboja (14 points), Henry (12 points) and Loury (11 points) led a balanced attack against the Pirates, who lost this season's Class 4A State title game 50-48 to Simeon.
"We're playing very good teams in this shootout so it's an opportunity to prove yourself," said Ljuboja, who is drawing interest from several college basketball programs. "Coach McCloskey told us just to play hard and compete. A lot people came out to see us so there is a lot of pride for us hosting the shootout."
With returning starters like the 6-7, 230-pound Ljuboja and the dynamic backcourt of Henry and Loury back in the fold along with probable new starters Liam Lesniak and Will Kincanon, the Bulldogs are solid favorites to win their 12th straight Metro Suburban Conference and put together a deep run in the playoffs next season. Reserves Jack VandeMerkt, Jack Gibson and David Aldape played well among others who performed well at the shootout.
"We should be really good next year," said Kincanon, who starred on the sophomore team last winter. "I can't wait for the season to start."