Perhaps the third time will be the charm for the Riverside-Brookfield girls basketball team (next season) regarding its goal of winning the RB Holiday Classic. In the meantime, the Bulldogs will have to settle for a second consecutive runner-up finish at their tourney as St. Francis edged RB 46-38 in the championship game.
The Spartans led 29-27 after three quarters and pulled away late to secure the hard-fought victory. Brittney JnoBaptiste paced the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Hannah Claywell scored nine and Janae Dabney chipped in seven.
“The game was tight the whole way,” RB coach Dallas Till said. “We just couldn’t come up with that key ‘and one’ basket or we would split a pair of free throws. We also missed too many contested putbacks and layups.
“It’s disappointing we couldn’t come away with the title, but the girls played hard.”
Riverside-Brookfield (15-3) owned the rest of the tournament field, notching victories over Lane, Reavis and Argo.
Argo provided the stiffest challenge, pulling to within three points with a minute left in the game. RB iced the game though, sinking five free throws down the stretch and finishing 20-of-28 overall at the charity stripe. JnoBaptiste recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards. Claywell (13 points, 3 steals), Dabney (7 points, 11 rebounds) and Miranda Chavez (4 points, 4 rebounds) also played well for RB.
“We knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Till said. “Argo is very physical and they like to get their hands on you defensively. It’s a city style of basketball which was good for us and what we needed to see.”
Riverside-Brookfield breezed past Lane 65-35 in its opener and also cruised to a 54-34 victory against Reavis. Led by JnoBaptiste’s 18 points and 11 rebounds, 11 Bulldogs scored in the Lane game.
Claywell netted 17 points and had six steals against Reavis. JnoBaptiste added 11 points and seven rebounds against the Rams, while the Bulldogs’ trio of sophomores — Dabney (6 points, 5 rebounds), Chavez (6 points, 4 steals) and Angela Comicho (6 points, 2 steals) — provided balance. Caroline Waas served as the Bulldogs’ perimeter defensive ace and sparkplug during the tournament.
Per usual, JnoBaptiste and Claywell starred for RB with the former averaging a double-double for the tournament.
“Brittney is awesome,” Claywell said. “She worked so hard in the offseason to get stronger. She was a boss on the boards grabbing all the rebounds.”
Riverside-Brookfield resumes play on Saturday at Fenton (5 p.m.) in a Metro Suburban Conference game. At 5-1 in the league, the Bulldogs trail frontrunner Glenbard South by a game with Timothy Christian also in contention.
“Winning conference is a big deal for us especially the seniors,” Claywell said. “We played well at our tournament and we can only come up at this point in the season.”
The Bulldogs return home Friday, Jan. 18 to take on Lyons Township in an intriguing nonconference matchup (7 p.m.).