15 players scored during the Riverside Brookfield High School girls basketball team’s 75-36 win Thursday over Illiana Christian on Senior Night; however, the Bulldogs’ signature play of their 39-point victory occurred on defense.
With the Bulldogs up 53-25 midway through the third quarter, senior forward Sydney Martinez took a charge, which elicited a smile from head coach Dallas Till and spirited applause from her teammates. The selfless play epitomized the subtle parts of winning basketball the Bulldogs will need to continue doing to complement their considerable talent.
“Sydney was a kid at the end of our bench last year, but she knows her role,” Till said. “She’s a girl who does the little things like taking a charge or diving for a loose ball. She gives our team energy and hustle. Sydney is admired by her teammates even though she’s not the most talented kid on the floor.”
Till’s description of Martinez could apply just as easily to the Bulldogs’ other seniors Caroline Waas, Marisa Jensen and Sam Cook.
On the flipside of its four role-playing seniors, RBHS is also blessed with a terrific trio of freshmen in 6-foot-5 center Dana Rettke and triple-threat guards Samantha Bloom and Linsday Hoyd.
“The one who has probably gotten the least amount of press has been Hoyd, and she’s a lights out shooter,” Till said. “Bloom and Hoyd can break down a defense and score or pass, and [then] we have Dana inside. They are tough to stop and don’t play like freshmen.”
Bloom scored 18 points and Hoyd added 12 points as the Bulldogs’ precocious backcourt combined for seven three-pointers. Rettke contributed 10 points and provided a major defensive presence in limited minutes against the Vikings.
“We’ve been playing together a while so we know how each other plays,” Rettke said about the Bulldogs’ three freshmen. “It’s nice we’re experiencing this together because we’re close friends. It’s important everybody has a role on the team; that’s why Sydney taking a charge was so great.”
Junior guard Miranda Chavez and Bloom started the game, along with seniors Waas, Martinez and Jensen. After the visiting Vikings opened the game with a 5-0 lead, RBHS responded with a solid run to grab a 20-15 advantage after one quarter. Bloom and Rettke triggered the turnaround with six points apiece in the first quarter.
Extending their lead to 43-25 at halftime, the Bulldogs put the game away for good in the third quarter as Bloom caught fire with 10 points highlighted by two treys, a layup and two free throws during her personal 8-point run. RBHS outscored the Vikings 13-2 in third quarter. In addition to Bloom’s scoring flurry, the Bulldogs’ defense was critical during their third-quarter domination.
“The key to our success all season has been our defense,” said Waas, a tenacious on-ball defender and team captain. “Our defense creates our early transition offense. We’re very athletic so causing turnovers gives us a lot of run outs for easy baskets. On offense, we have to work the ball around for good shots and get the ball into our post players, Dana [Rettke] and Janae [Dabney].”
Dabney, certainly the Bulldogs’ top returning player, scored six points against Illiana Christian.
In the closing minutes of the game, Till called for an isolation play for Jensen, who was fouled in the lane. She made 1 of 2 free throws to ensure every Bulldog scored.
“You couldn’t draw this night up any better.” Till said. “Everything went better than I actually expected. It was a great night to appreciate the contributions of our seniors.”
At 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the Metro Suburban Conference, the Bulldogs have developed an impressive team chemistry in relatively short order, despite featuring several new faces in the lineup.
“I love it,” Waas said about the bond between players. “I’ve been playing for years [at RBHS] and I’m learning from our younger players. And they’re learning from me. It’s perfect.”
In another conference game this week, the Bulldogs edged Timothy Christian 48-43 in Elmhurst. Bloom (16 points) and Dabney (10 points) paced the victors, while Kaitlyn Gehrke had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans.