The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys basketball team won its first and only Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament championship in 2001. The Bulldogs’ bid to claim the coveted title once again fell short during Saturday’s 69-42 loss to Lake Forest in the final at York High School.
RBHS also saw its unbeaten streak come to end at 13 games, while the Scouts improved to 14-0 and won their second straight Tosh title.
With forward Sam Johnson in foul trouble from the second quarter on, RBHS shot just 15-for-56 from the field (26 percent) and appeared out of sync against the Scouts’ size and strength.
“I think Lake Forest is a really good team,” RBHS coach Tom McCloskey said. “Their size and strength, especially their strength, gave us a whole lot of trouble. It was hard to get shots off.
“We had a good showing in the tournament, it just didn’t happen for us today.”
Junior point guard Daniko Jackson, who made the all-tournament team along with Johnson, led the Bulldogs with 12 points and five assists.
“It was fun while it lasted, but this game was a learning experience,” Jackson said about the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season. “Lake Forest is a very good team. They are really big, especially in the interior, and we struggled against their defense. We can learn to be more physical against teams.”
Center Mark Smith finished with eight points and Johnson had five points and three rebounds in limited minutes. Ryan Hanley contributed six points and five rebounds. Hanley has done a nice job all season providing energy and hustle off the bench.
“I just try to play solidly and not turn the ball over,” Hanley said.
Tournament MVP Evan Boudreaux racked up a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds for Lake Forest. The Dartmouth-bound Boudreaux set tournament records for total points (145) and rebounds (69). Teammate Noah Karras contributed 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc.
After RBHS guard Henry Trelenberg made a three-pointer at the top of the key to give the Bulldogs their only lead at 13-10 with 1:36 remaining in the first quarter, Karras responded with a momentum-changing shooting display. The 6-3 guard made three straight treys and Boudreaux added two free throws to close out the opening quarter with the Scouts ahead 21-13.
As if handling the potent inside-outside scoring combination of Boudreaux and Karras wasn’t difficult enough, the Bulldogs’ Johnson picked up his third foul at 6:46 of the second quarter. After Johnson picked up his fourth foul with 2:40 left in the third quarter, the Scouts blew the game wide open with Karras sinking two more three-pointers to extend their lead to 53-34.
“Sam is our primary scorer, so we have to figure it out when he’s not on the court,” RBHS sophomore guard Jalen Clanton said. “This tournament is a great experience for all of us. I’m just trying to get in the flow of things as a sophomore and come back even better my junior year.”
At 67-40 with 3:02 left in the game, both teams emptied their benches.
While the Bulldogs (13-1) were disappointed with their performance in the championship game, they still put together a great run with wins over DePaul Prep (61-39), St. Ignatius (68-60), York (64-48) and Lane Tech (71-60).
“We have great balance as a team,” Johnson said. “Playing well [at Tosh] is huge because it gives us momentum for the rest of the season.”
Boudreaux offered praise for the runner-up Bulldogs strong tournament showing.
“They’ve gotten a lot of hype and deservedly so,” he said. “They’re a really good team, but we were able to execute our game plan.”
Another positive RBHS will take from the tournament, and in the championship game in particular, was the return of guard Kevin Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who missed the first 13 games of the season, made his debut against Lake Forest at 5:47 of the third quarter, with the Bulldogs behind 38-28. He had three points and three rebounds in limited action.
“I was hoping to come back in a game where maybe I could swing into things a little slower, but I felt it was important to be there for my teammates,” Fitzgerald said. “I really just wanted to do whatever [McCloskey] told me to do and whatever I could to help our team win.”