Though favored to win the Morton College Minuteman Holiday Classic last week, Riverside Brookfield was cut short in the championship game by Proviso West.

Proviso shocked the Bulldogs (12-3), winning 58-54 in the closely contested game. It was a see-saw battle from the get-go, with Proviso entering the locker room with a 30-27 lead. The Bulldogs then snatched the lead back, leading 46-43 at the end of the third quarter. But, Proviso stormed right back and prevailed by connecting on several key buckets down the stretch, while RB failed to answer. Still, RB coach Larry Rocco was buoyed by the effort put forward by his squad and is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“Proviso West really is an outstanding team,” he said. “Just to be in the championship game and have that experience for our kids was great. Our kids played hard the whole game and I am very proud of their effort. We held our own with them and had a chance to win it, but this loss is something we can build upon. If we play like we did against them I think the rest of the year will be fine.”

Senior Maggie McCloskey paced the Bulldogs with 21 points and nine assists against Proviso, while junior Katelyn McCloskey added 18 points and sophomore Erin Pfieffer had nine points and 12 rebounds.

RB’s road to the championship game began with a 72-48 romp over Addison Trail. The Bulldogs leapt to a 42-17 lead at the half and did not look back. Pfieffer led all scorers with 25 points, while Maggie McCloskey chipped in 19 points and 14 assists.

In the second game, the Bulldogs squeaked by Morton 52-47. RB seemed poised for an easy victory, opening up with a 10-point lead to start the third quarter. Morton, however, replied with an 11-0 run to end the third. Katelyn McCloskey paced RB with 18 points while cousin Maggie added 17 points. Pfieffer chipped in eight points and was huge on the boards with 12 rebounds.

“We beat Morton earlier this year by five, so we knew it would be a battle,” Rocco said. “They really hurt us inside with their height and they especially exploited that when they went on the run to end the third. Fortunately, we came back and pulled it out.”

In the third game against Clark, RB once again jumped to a big first half lead, 47-28 and did not look in the rearview mirror, cruising to an 81-44 victory. Maggie McCloskey was a force from three-point land, knocking down four treys en route to scoring a game high 28 points and was 12-for-17 from the charity stripe.

A deficiency of height, however, will soon be a thing of the past for RB considering that 6-2 center Sarah Strait will be returning to the lineup this week. The senior is returning to the Bulldog roster after suffering an ACL injury and will play a crucial role in RB’s contention for the Suburban Prairie League Championship and beyond, according to Rocco.

“Looking forward, our number one concern is to try and win the conference, which means beating Westmont and then Lemont,” he said. “By getting Sarah back we will go from an average rebounding team to a very good one. I really like our chemistry this year. Erin (Pfieffer) and Maggie (McCloskey) are four-year varsity players so they are our leaders. Plus, Kristine Zeleny, Lauren Orgler, and Jamie and Stephanie Magdic all play important roles. Also, we have gotten great play off the bench from Colleen Hartman and Ana Lustoff. But ultimately, the big key is Sara’s return, we are going to be a much stronger team the second half of the season.”

Minuteman Tournament Results

Thursday, Dec. 29
Proviso West 58, RB 54 (title)
(Bulldogs: Maggie McCloskey 21 pts; Katelyn McCloskey, 18 pts)

Wednesday, Dec. 28
RB 81, Clark 44
(Bulldogs: Maggie McCloskey, 30 pts, 5 assists; Erin Pfieffer, 16 pts, 15 rbs; Jamie Magdic, 12 pts; Katelyn McCloskey, 11 pts)

Tuesday, Dec. 27
RB 52, Morton 47
(Bulldogs: Katelyn McCloskey, 18 pts; Maggie McCloskey, 17 pts)

Monday, Dec. 26
RB 72, Addison Trail 48
(Bulldogs: Pfieffer, 25 pts, 6 rbs; Maggie McCloskey, 19 pts, 14 assists; Katelyn McCloskey, 10 pts)