Jessie Hutchens, Shaquita Slater and Emily Chapman remember when Timothy Christian snapped Riverside-Brookfield’s school-record 17 straight wins last season. The trio of seniors led RB to a 62-52 victory over the Trojans in a re-match last week.
While the victory was indisputably sweet, Hutchens never felt payback was a big part of the Bulldogs’ game plan.
“I just approached it as another game,” the 5-foot-9 guard said. “Last year, I think we should have beaten them, but they broke our win streak. We knew Timothy Christian was going to be one of the tougher games for us. We needed to come out and win the game.”
Hutchens helped earn that objective by scoring 16 points, while Slater and Chapman added 10 points each. Early baskets by Slater and Chapman triggered a run for RB which pushed out to a 35-25 halftime lead. Effectively mixing full-court pressure and solid half-court defense, the Bulldogs were never threatened in the second half.
Another key to success was the play of senior guard Anna Tess, who filled in at times for Hutchens as the Bulldogs’ signal-caller.
“Jessie got in foul trouble early and we moved Anna over to the one [point guard position],” RB coach Larry Rocco said. “Anna played a great game for us. I think Anna and Kristy Frampton had their best games of the year by far. We had really great play off our bench.”
Rocco praised the contributions of reserves like Frampton, Meghan Orgler, Anita Balciunas and Kiley Rusen. Tess, a first-time starter this season, appreciates the work of her teammates on the bench.
“I think it was one of our first games that we really came together as an entire team,” Tess said. “I try to encourage my teammates, especially some of the juniors who maybe aren’t playing as much.”
Riverside-Brookfield (6-1, 2-1 Metro Suburban Conference) is off to a fast start with already claiming its own tournament title and several convincing wins. Best of all, the Bulldogs are a team on the rise.
“We’re young and we are still growing,” Rocco added. “I think our best basketball is ahead of us.”
Over the holidays, defending champion RB will compete in the Minuteman Classic at Morton College.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher to win it this year,” Hutchens said. “The new girls are playing good though, and we are getting a lot of positives from our bench.”