The Riverside Brookfield boys basketball team not only extended its unbeaten streak to five games Saturday night at Niles West with a 64-62 victory, the Bulldogs also proved they can win without their best stuff.
Despite trailing most of the game and having only three of its players figure into the scoring, RB (6-2) surged past the Wolves in the final ticks.
Taking an in-bounds pass and immediately drawing a double team, sophomore Chris Parrish, who led all scorers with 31 points, dished the ball in the paint to junior Jon Baldermann, who scored with five seconds left to give RB a 64-62 lead.
Senior Mark Gorman’s steal foiled Niles West’s desperation chance to tie and sealed the win.
Baldermann finished with 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Senior Matt Sandrik had 13 points, nine boards and seven assists. And that was it for the Bulldogs.
“It was a little weird,” said RB coach Tom McCloskey. “I don’t remember a game like that. But, the coach added, “It was a game you have to feel happy about. The guys showed the mental toughness to keep battling and get a win on the road.”
Fueled by hitting six three-pointers in the first quarter, Niles West held a 40-31 advantage at halftime.
“We knew we had to step up the defense and contest their shots,” McCloskey said.
That, and Parrish just kept heating up all over the court. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore’s 31 points were a career high. He also grabbed seven rebounds and recorded four assists.
“He’s improved remarkably from last year as far as his offense,” said McCloskey of Parrish.
The Bulldogs took a two-point lead as the game neared its final minute. But the home team quickly tied the score.
The Wolves seemed to have a golden opportunity for a final shot, but a backcourt violation gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with 16 seconds remaining, setting up Baldermann’s winning basket.
One night earlier, RB improved to 2-0 in the Suburban Prairie (East) Conference with an 83-52 home route of Elmwood Park.
The Bulldogs started slow, but eventually ran away with a 40-16 halftime lead. By the second half, the home team was able to empty its bench and get everyone some playing time.
“Our athleticism and speed really came through for us,” said McCloskey. “Once we start pushing the ball, we can do a lot of good things.”
Parrish paced RB with 28 points, four rebounds and three assists. Baldermann tore up the paint with 18 points and junior Jake Nash added eight.
The Bulldogs next play on Tuesday, opening York’s 16-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic against Oswego (tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.). RB then plays the winner or loser of the preceding Willowbrook/York game in either the championship or consolation bracket.
The tournament’s top seed is DuPage Valley Conference power Wheaton Warrenville South, followed in order by the host school, Downers Grove South and St. Ignatius.