With each passing week, the Riverside-Brookfield boys basketball team seems to take steps in the right direction.
The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0) took two more big steps last week with a 59-47 Suburban Prairie East victory over Ridgewood, and followed that up with an 87-54 rout of Addison Trail on Saturday night.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said RB coach Tom McCloskey, whose team opened the season losing two of its first three games. “We are scoring and have had good balance, too.”
McCloskey’s crew used a 30-11 second-half spurt to defeat the visiting Rebels Friday night. Steve Wilhelm’s three-pointer helped RB turn a 21-19 halftime lead into a 41-29 advantage midway through the third quarter.
“We were playing slow, and I told the kids to push the ball,” McCloskey said. “Once we started to do that, I think it opened a lot of things up for us.”
Before Ridgewood could recover, Wilhelm and Co. had built a 54-30 cushion with less than four minutes to play. The Rebels did, however, become the first team to hold the Bulldogs under 60 points this season.
“We just seemed to be more effective in everything we did in the second half,” McCloskey said.
Chris Parrish paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Jon Baldermann added 14 points, five rebounds and six assists. Matt Sandrik also had 13 points.
“Coach told us at the half that we had to push the ball,” Parrish said. “We were playing sluggish and it helped us a lot to start running. When we run and pressure the ball, we’re tough to beat.”
McCloskey’s crew came out of the gate flying Saturday against Addison Trail, as the Bulldogs scored 56 points in the first half during their 23-point nonconference victory.
“I can’t remember ever scoring 56 points in the first half,” McCloskey said. “Matt had 19 points and eight rebounds by halftime. We really played solid at both ends.”
Sandrik’s play was a big reason why RB led 56-31 at the half, and ran its season-best winning streak to three games. The 6-4 senior guard finished the contest with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
“That was a great game, but we still know we can play a lot better?”especially defensively,” Sandrik said. “When things are clicking, we’re going to be tough for teams to beat.”
Baldermann continued his solid inside play with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Parrish chipped in with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Dan Papadatos finished with a season-high 14 points.
“We moved the ball a lot better against Addison Trail than we did against Ridgewood,” Baldermann said. “When everyone gets more touches on the ball, our offense seems to click a lot better.”
The Bulldogs will welcome Elmwood Park on Friday before traveling to Niles West on Saturday night.
“We’ve won a number of conference titles in a row, so everyone is gunning for us,” McCloskey said. “We can’t take anyone lightly. I know the kids will be ready for Elmwood Park, and then Niles West on Saturday, too.”
McCloskey is hoping the Friday-Saturday scheduling will help his squad later in the season.
“I like playing on Tuesdays, but I like Friday and Saturday games, too,” said McCloskey, whose team will have a 10-day layoff before competing in the York Holiday Classic on Dec. 27. “It’s good to mix it up throughout the season.”