Same court, two games, two championships. That’s how the Riverside-Brookfield girls basketball team will fondly remember its two meetings against Nazareth this season. The host Bulldogs overwhelmed the Roadrunners 66-46 to claim the RB Regional Championship in Class 3A action on Friday. Earlier this season, RB edged Nazareth by two points to win the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Basketball Classic.
“I think we have improved so much from that first game [49-47 win over Nazareth] to this game in the regional final,” said RB coach Larry Rocco. “We lost four great seniors so it took us a while to find our identity. The last six or seven games, we have been playing really good basketball.”
Per its recent formula for success, RB (23-5) raced to an 18-6 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs scored seven points to start the second quarter, extending their lead to 26-6, while also containing Nazareth’s main scoring threats.
“We knew we had to stop [Nora] Masterson and [Jane] Schiffler and keep an eye on Rachel Stec,” Rocco said. “We did a pretty good job on two of those three players – Stec scored some late buckets on us.”
Trailing 36-18 at the half, Nazareth (11-16) briefly threatened with an 8-0 spurt to open the third quarter and pull within 36-26. However, RB outscored Nazareth 30-20 the rest of the game, fueled by a balanced team effort.
“Similar to the Illiana Christian game, we came out with a game plan and the kids followed it to perfection,” Rocco said. “Our kids have all learned their roles and that’s been a big key for us. [Sophomore] Kiley Rusen had the game of her career against Nazareth.”
Rusen’s 15 points, highlighted by a trio of timely three-pointers, earned her a share of team-high scoring honors with Anna Tess, who also pulled down six rebounds. Seniors Kristy Frampton (13 points) and Jessie Hutchens (10 points) also contributed and 6-foot junior center Kelsey Egger controlled the paint with six points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Schiffler scored 23 points and Stec added seven for the Roadrunners (11-16).
Riverside-Brookfield, seeded second, was due to take on King in the sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Nazareth (after deadline). The Jaguars upset Wheaton Academy 57-49 in its regional final last week.