The Bulldogs’ luck finally ran out.
The Riverside Brookfield (15-11, 9-1) boys basketball team drew its season to a close last week, falling 53-47 to Morton in the first round of the regional tournament held at RB.
Morton (18-9) had the Bulldogs’ number all year, defeating them on Feb. 8 and limiting the Bulldogs to 15 of 49 from the field. This time, however, the Bulldogs rose to the challenge. In fact, both teams were on fire in the first half, combining for 15 treys. Still, the Mustangs proved to be too much down the stretch. Bryan Erce led the Mustangs with 26 points en route to the victory.
“I really thought it was an excellent high school boys basketball game,” said RB coach Tom McCloskey. “We hit seven three-pointers in the first half and really shot the ball well, which we needed to do. In the second half, points were much harder to come by, but Erce really got hot for them. The difference was they made their free throws when they needed and got the victory. Still, it was an excellent game and I thought our guys left it all on the floor ? I am very proud of their effort.”
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs had a season to remember. RB claimed its fifth straight Suburban Prairie (East) Conference championship?”their seventh in the last 10 years. The Bulldogs have compiled a staggering 51-4 record in league play over the past five years, largely due to the work ethic of the players in the program. This year, RB will lose seniors Matt Sandrik, Mark Gorman, Steve Wilhelm, Seamus Brennan and Brian Tyminski.
“I think Sandrik did a great job at point guard for us this year,” McCloskey said. “Gorman also was a big contributor to our success as was Brennan. Wilhelm was huge from three-point land for us this year and many times was a big spark off the bench. Even though Bryan Tyminski did not get a lot of playing time, he really was a valuable member of our team as well.”
Despite the loss of five seniors, things remain bright for the Bulldogs next season. RB still retains the services of all-conference players Jon Baldermann and Chris Parrish, both of which will be the foundation of McCloskey’s squad. The Bulldogs will also look to 6-5 center Jake Nash to share duties in the post with Baldermann, which could make for a formidable RB inside game. Meanwhile, Dan Papadatos will also be expected to lead the offensive attack courtesy of his outside shooting. Though the Bulldogs tallied 15 wins during the season and won the league for the fifth straight time, McCloskey still has even bigger goals for his team next year.
“Of course, we were happy to win the conference and get 15 wins and we want to continue that winning tradition,” he said. “Still, I really think we have the potential to win the league again and really make a run in the State tournament. I know all the guys want to make a good run in the tournament and take our program to another level.”
Still, a sixth conference title will not be easy to claim, considering the Bulldogs will have a bull’s eye distinctly painted on their uniforms each time they take on a conference foe.
“We will really have our work cut out for us next season in the conference,” McCloskey said. “Fenton will be right with us and I anticipate Ridgewood and Oak Park to really challenge us. We will really have to work in the off-season to make sure we can continue to play at a high level and continue the winning tradition at RB.”