Since Riverside-Brookfield High School girls basketball coach Dallas Till took over the program four years ago, the Bulldogs have dominated their Thanksgiving tournament winning the championship every year.
The RB Holiday Classic Tournament, however, has been another story. Over the past three Christmas breaks, the Bulldogs have finished second twice and third last year. By the Bulldogs’ standards, winning both their tournament titles is always a goal.
The Bulldogs (13-2, 2-1 Metro Suburban Conference) are well positioned to achieve a sweep of their tournaments this year after notching victories over Beecher 61-35 and Argo 62-36 in early action at the RB Holiday Classic Tournament. 6-7 sophomore center Dana Rettke scored 25 points against Argo.
RBHS faces Queen of Peace next on Fri., Dec. 26 and then play in a tourney finale on Dec. 27, opponent/time to be announced, which likely will be the championship game.
RBHS won four of five games en route to the third-place finish last year. The Bulldogs cruised past Lane Tech, St. Francis de Sales and Reavis before losing to Nazareth 65-55. The Bulldogs bounced back to beat McHenry 57-41 in the third-place game of the 12-team field.
The previous two years, RBHS finished as the RB Holiday Classic Tournament runner-up with title game losses to St. Francis 46-38 (2012) and Proviso West 59-38 (in 2011).
Perhaps the fourth time will be the charm for Till and the Bulldogs, who possess plenty of firepower to make another run at their elusive hometown tournament championship.
“I have confidence this is our year to win the tournament,” RBHS guard Lyndsey Hoyd said. “The tournament is so much fun and we play really well on our own floor. There’s some good teams in it this year so it should really be fun.”
Rettke and Bloom, who were both chosen on the RB Holiday Classic all-tournament team in 2013, will lead the team again this year. Senior forward Janae Dabney and Hoyd are the Bulldogs’ other top players.
The team will also benefit from the return of senior guard Miranda Chavez, who missed the first half of the season.
“Miranda will help us a lot with her ball handling and she’s a huge defensive presence,” Bloom said. “I’m excited to see her back on the floor because we work well together. We’re a very solid team this year. I’m very confident that we’ll play well at our own tournament.”
After a 9-0 start this season, RBHS split four games last week. Conference rival Glenbard South defeated the Bulldogs 57-45 in a conference showdown. At the Oak Lawn Holiday Tournament, RBHS defeated De La Salle 59-27 and Oak Lawn 61-50 but lost to Lincoln-Way North 61-51.
“It was a tough week but there are always things to take away from losses,” Hoyd said. “I think it made us realize we need to focus more in practice. We fought hard and we’ll get Glenbard [South] for sure next time.”
Against Glenbard South, the defending champs of the Metro Suburban Conference, RBHS jumped out to a 12-2 lead as Bloom, Hoyd and Jess JnoBaptiste made three-pointers. Sydney Bauman triggered a spurt by the Raiders in the third quarter and they made free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
In the other games, Caitie Rusen had a breakout performance against De La Salle, sinking 7 of 8 three-point shots to finish with a career-high 25 points. Rettke contributed 10 points and Dabney chipped in eight points.
Bloom had 19 points and Hoyd added 10 points against Lincoln-Way North.