The second-season is just beginning for the Riverside Brookfield boys basketball team.
The Bulldogs may have finished their regular season with a meaningless 64-42 loss to Fenton on Friday, but now it’s time to gear up for the postseason. RB already clinched its fifth straight Suburban Prairie (East) Conference championship?”its seventh in the last 10 years?”on Feb. 17 against Lemont. RB, however, is now setting its sites on Morton in the first round (third game) of the Class AA Regional Championship tonight (Wednesday). RB coach Tom McCloskey knows his squad will have its hands full. The Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season to Morton on Feb. 8.
“I think we match-up well against them if we have the lead,” he said. “But, if we fall behind at all I know they go will go into their four-quarter offense which spreads the floor and burns the clock. They did that to us on Feb. 8 and we couldn’t find an answer. They are also very quick and they have a good post player. They have a good combo of things so we have to make sure we are sharp defensively for the entire 40 minutes.”
Though RB (15-9, 9-0) is seeded eighth in the sectional and Morton is the ninth seed, McCloskey and his squad feel like the underdog, seeing they have fallen to Morton the last three times the teams have clashed. Undoubtedly, the Bulldogs must hand in a better offensive performance than they did earlier in the month. In that game, RB shot a dismal 15 of 49 from the field, a statistic McCloskey knows must improve to keep the postseason alive. Still, this time RB has home-court advantage as host of the regional, with the Bulldog faithful providing an all important “sixth man” in the contest, according to McCloskey.
Things won’t get any easier for the Bulldogs if they defeat Morton?”McCloskey believes RB has one of the tougher regional draws in the area, with 12-seeded Clark taking on 17th seed Kelly in Game 1. The No. 1 seed St. Joseph, who received a first-round bye, will play the winner of Game 1. So, if RB prevails in Game 3,it will play for the regional championship on March 3, but McCloskey is making sure not to think past Morton.
“Morton is a great team and we simply cannot think beyond that game,” he said. “We may only have a school of 1,300 students, but we really want to make a good showing in the tournament. Regardless of what we have accomplished this year in the league, it will definitely give us a good feeling to win in the tourney. I think it would be an even bigger lift to our season if we accomplish that.”
In order to reach this goal, McCloskey knows his players must play with a sense of urgency and know they are a game away from cleaning out their lockers.
“We have lost to Morton the last three times we have played, so we know what we are up against,” he said. “It is simple at this point ? if we don’t win the season is over. I think the things we do are sound and we just have to execute, which means rotating defensively, rebounding well and shooting well. If we do these things, everything will take care of itself.”