After winning the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving tournament title, the Riverside-Brookfield girls basketball team served early notice to other teams that the Lady Bulldogs mean business this season.
That “opponents beware” message was delivered to Elmwood Park and Illiana Christian last week as RB notched a pair of impressive conference victories. The Lady Bulldogs (6-0, 2-0 Metro Suburban Conference) rolled to a 55-31 win over perennially pesky Elmwood Park. Leading 32-26 in the third quarter, RB went on an 18-0 run to essentially seal the visiting Tigers’ fate. Senior guard Danielle Peco scored a game-high 15 points, and shot 5-for-11 from three-point land. Junior guard/forward Hannah Claywell scored 10 points and senior guard Kiley Rusen contributed eight points, while Elena Duve starred defensively by limiting the Tigers’ top scorer to a paltry seven points.
Riverside-Brookfield earned its first conference win via a hard-fought 51-41 decision over host Illiana Christian. The Bulldogs produced a true team effort as Claywell scored 12 points, Peco added 11 points (all in the fourth quarter), Rusen chipped in 10 off the bench, and fellow reserved Megan Walsen canned a timely three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a five-point lead at halftime. RB shot well at the free-throw line as well, sinking 18 of 27 shots.
“Our confidence is growing after each game,” said senior forward Meghan Orgler, RB’s leading scorer at 12 points per game. “We don’t want to get too excited because we still have a lot of business to take care of this season. Our focus is to keep working hard at practice and improve as a team.”
The RB players have already shown signs that, collectively, they are a quick study. After head coach Dallas Till talked about the need for better scoring distribution, Peco, Claywell, Rusen and several others have picked up the scoring slack to help Orgler and Duve.
“It’s exciting because we have an older team but the younger players are also contributing to our success,” Claywell said. “[Dallas Till] expects us to win conference and we’re working hard to accomplish that goal.”
RB travel to rival Lyons Township on Saturday (2:30 p.m.).
“We’re doing great but we have to keep it up,” said junior forward Brittany JnoBaptiste. “We have some tough games coming up especially against LT, but I think we can pull through.”