A win is a win but some victories taste a bit sweeter as the Riverside-Brookfield boys basketball team discovered on Saturday.
A few seasons removed from their heartbreaking loss to Marshall in a 2010 sectional semifinal — the Commandos tied the game on a half-court shot at the end of regulation and won 56-54 in overtime — the Bulldogs earned a meaningful measure of revenge with a 62-54 win over Marshall in the Chops Billinger Memorial Shootout hosted by Whitney Young on Saturday.
“I said all week this game was dedicated to our 2010 team,” RB coach Tom McCloskey said. “That was such a tough loss that we wanted to win this game [against Marshall] for our 2010 team.”
The 2010 Bulldogs featured sensational guards Ryan Jackson and Sean McGonagill, who are now playing college basketball at Lewis University and Brown, respectively.
In RB-Marshall II, the rematch offered the theatrics of the 2010 postseason meeting, but it was a tightly contested battle nonetheless. The Commandos held leads after one quarter, 18-12, and at halftime, 32-30. Trailing 46-39, the Bulldogs went on a 14-0 run during the second half to pull away for the victory.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” McCloskey said. “We weren’t rotating well enough defensively; we did a much better job in the second half. Marshall likes to trap the rebounder off missed shots, but we did a good job with outlet passes and handling pressure.”
Riverside-Brookfield center Miki Ljuboja, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, scored five points during the Bulldogs’ decisive spurt. The RB backcourt of Damonta Henry (16 points, 6 assists) and Eric Loury (12 points) also assumed starring roles in the win.
Cris Craig scored a team-high 14 points for Marshall and Citron Miller added 11 points.
“Miki and Damonta played great and Eric provided us excellent defense,” McCloskey said. “We got the ball inside to Miki, hit some three-pointers and scored some transition baskets.”
The win improved RB to 16-5 overall and 7-0 in the Metro Suburban. Since a 3-3 start, the Bulldogs have won 13 of 15 games and are well-positioned to defend their conference title.
On Friday, RB routed host Fenton 78-48 in conference action. The Bison took an early 9-4 lead before the Bulldogs caught fire with a 16-4 run to end the first quarter with a 20-13 advantage. The Bulldogs coasted the rest of the way as five players reached double figures. Ljuboja led the charge with 17 points to go along with nine rebounds. Jack VandeMerkt netted 16 points while Jack Gibson and Tyler Campbell scored 11 points apiece and Loury added 10.
“I was happy that we didn’t overlook Fenton thinking ahead about the Marshall game,” McCloskey said. “We were able to play a lot of guys and had plenty of contributions.
The Bulldogs travel to Elmhurst on Friday for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Timothy Christian. RB nipped the Trojans 68-64 at Dudley gymnasium earlier this season.