The Minuteman Classic tournament returns this summer for its 11th season and will feature many of the best boys and girls basketball teams in Illinois. Sponsored by Texor Corporation, the tournament is designed to help high school basketball players get exposure to college programs and to condition in the off-season. The tournament runs Friday, July 7 through Saturday, July 8 at York High School.

RB boys b-ball

Coming off a 15-11 season and their fifth straight Suburban Prairie (East) Conference title, the Bulldogs return 6-foot-6-inch senior forward Jon Baldermann and 6-3 junior Chris Parrish and should once again be a force. Balderman and Parrish were crucial cogs in the RB machine last season, both averaging 15 points per game. The Bulldogs also feature more firepower, with 6-foot senior guard Dan Papadatos as a perimeter threat, 6-5 senior Jake Nash patrolling the paint, rounded out by sophomore point guard Dan Oswalt running the offense.

“We have played in several shootouts and the Hinsdale South Summer League and I think we are improving,” said RB coach Tom McCloskey. “Parrish has really gone up a level and has become a complete player. I am also looking for Baldermann to have a big year for us and Nash has played well and been consistent. Papadatos has been a real offensive threat with his outside shooting and Oswalt has been a pleasant surprise at point guard.”

McCloskey believes St. Joe’s and Downers South are the two teams to beat, but wins are not his main concern.

“We just want to work on our consistency, because that is something we have struggled with this summer,” he said. “I think if we begin to establish ourselves, the wins should come. The competition at the Minuteman will definitely help us gauge our strengths and weakness, so we are looking forward to it.”

RB girls b-ball

RB finished with a 27-4 overall record last season and claimed a second-straight regional championship, but with three starters back, the Bulldogs seem poised for another big season. With seniors Katelyn McCloskey, Kristen Zeleny and Sara Strait leading the way for the Bulldogs, RB coach Larry Rocco is feeling confident.

Many coaches would too, considering Strait is a talented 6-2 center, Zeleny is an experienced two-guard and McCloskey is a scoring machine at forward. During summer scrimmages, where the games feature running clocks, McCloskey has averaged 20 points a game and Strait seems fully recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury that sidelined her last season. Combine these talents with a pair of talented sophomores in Rachel Buccieri at point guard and Regan Riley at forward and the Bulldogs may wreak havoc in the tourney.

“Both Katelyn and Sara have really played well this summer,” Rocco said. “Strait has been great to have back in the lineup because she is so good under the basket. I am sure she and Katelyn can play at the next level and the scouts will be very interested in watching both of them play. Plus, our underclassmen have really filled in well.”

Rocco will also look to seniors Lauren Orgler and Colleen Hartman to bolster the lineup. As for the Minuteman, Rocco believes the Bulldogs will have their hands full with Fenwick, Marian Catholic, Buffalo Grove, Bishop Mac, Marist, Proviso West and LT. Still, Rocco is making sure not to place too much emphasis on winning. With just 25 days of practice and play, he said he is mostly focusing on the effort put forth by his players.

“There is no doubt that this is a tough tournament and we have a young team, so we just want to focus on getting better every game,” he said. “I feel good though, because we have had a solid summer. We are trying not to stress wins and losses, because all we want is for them to work hard.”