The Riverside-Brookfield girls basketball team turned a potential blowout loss into a signature win against Illiana Christian on Friday.
The Bulldogs outscored Illiana Christian 22-9 during a critical third quarter run en route to a 63-55 victory. With the win, RB (12-2, 4-1) earns a share of first place with Illiana Christian in the Metro Suburban Conference. Fenton is close behind with just two league losses.
Early on, the host Vikings appeared in control against RB, racing out to an 18-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Illiana Christian is a good team with a lot of size,” said Riverside-Brookfield coach Larry Rocco. “We were struggling and it looked like it could be a blowout early.”
Riverside-Brookfield stayed within striking distance though, trailing 36-30 at the half. Senior guard Anna Tess made a pair of timely three-pointers in the second quarter to keep the score close.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs increased their defensive pressure and tempo of the game. Jessie Hutchens (25 points, 8 assists) sparked the RB comeback with 13 points in the period. Kristin Kleinmeyer scored a huge bucket to give the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead. Riverside-Brookfield extended its advantage to 52-45 at the end of the third.
“At halftime, our coaches talked to us about how we needed to run it and pick up our speed,” Hutchens said. “I saw that Illiana Christian was leaving the lane wide open. I drove the lane and if they collapsed on me, I would drop it off to Kelsey (Egger) and Shaquita (Slater).”
Riverside-Brookfield held off the Vikings in the fourth quarter despite post players Egger and Slater, along with Tess, all fouling out during the final five minutes.
“It was a total team effort,” Rocco said. “It was tough, but our kids hung in there.”
The Bulldogs enjoyed excellent performances from several players. Making her first varsity start, senior Kristy Frampton scored 11 points, including 6-of-9 free throws. Egger pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, and Slater contributed seven points and six rebounds.
“We stepped it up a lot at Morton College [Holiday Classic] and the Illiana Christian game showed a lot about our team,” Hutchens said. “After we were down against Illiana, we put two and two together, started communicating and everything worked out. Our bench players did a fantastic job.”
The Bulldogs picked up a 60-57 win over Streamwood at the Fenton Tournament also last week. Hutchens played a great floor game with 19 points, seven assists and four steals, while Egger scored 12.
The Bulldogs visit Westmont tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m.) and host Fenton Friday (5:30 p.m.).