The play is called “Yankee.” It involves the use of multiple players with a particular emphasis on ball movement to create open shots.
On three straight possessions, Riverside-Brookfield High School girls basketball coach Dallas Till called it, and the Bulldogs ran it to perfection, resulting in a key eight-point run during the Bulldogs’ 45-35 win over St. Edward on Saturday.
“I probably should have gone to it earlier,” Till said about the play call. “With the loss of Janae [Dabney], we’re still trying to figure ourselves out. We know that we’re going to get some different looks from teams.
The Bulldogs (17-2, 3-1 Metro Suburban Conference) earned a gritty win, especially in light of playing their first game without Dabney, who is out for season with torn ACL in her left knee and a sprained ligament. Dabney, MVP of the RB Holiday Classic Tournament, was injured during the Bulldogs’ 83-50 win over Reavis in the title game of that tournament.
“I saw Janae get a little teary-eyed but we all support her,” Till said. “Not seeing her on the court for the first time hit me hard, but I have to stay strong for our team. It’s just a shame she couldn’t finish her career on the court.”
Engaged in a back and forth game against St. Edward, RBHS led 32-29 when center Dana Rettke scored a basket inside and guard Samantha Bloom added a couple of three-pointers which extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to 40-29 midway through the fourth quarter. The spurt, all coming off the aforementioned “Yankee,” provided enough breathing room to put away the pesky Green Wave, who essentially traded baskets with RBHS the rest of the game.
“We hadn’t run ‘Yankee’ in a long time but it really helped get us going,” Bloom said. “We were missing our shots tonight, but we kept our heads up. I know we play [St. Edward] again very soon so we have to watch a lot of film, come out stronger and hit some shots.”
The Bulldogs hadn’t played a game in two weeks, since they won their Christmas tournament on Dec. 27. The rust showed early as St. Edward jumped out to an 8-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Lyndsey Hoyd scored five points to keep RBHS within striking range, trailing 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, there were seven lead changes. Bloom, who scored eight points in the quarter, made a tough runner in the lane to put the Bulldogs up for good with a 20-19 halftime advantage.
While St. Edward threatened to regain the lead several times in the second half, the backcourt scoring of Bloom (game-high 18 points) and Hoyd (13 points) held off the Green Wave. Rettke contributed eight points. Cece Rapp and Katelyn Castoro paced the Green Wave with 11 points apiece.
Although the Bulldogs struggled to make shots, they played very well on defense with strong efforts from Bloom, Hoyd and Miranda Chavez along the perimeter, while Rettke, Jess JnoBaptiste, Natalia Gheewala and Elexis Walker anchored the paint. In an effort to speed up the game, the Bulldogs threw multiple looks defensively at the Green Wave, including full, three-quarter and half-court pressure.
The 6-7 Rettke blocked several shots and rebounded well, but her effectiveness was limited due to foul trouble. She picked up her third foul at 4:20 of the second quarter.
Obviously, the team is still adjusting to the loss of its star senior forward. The feeling is reciprocal for Dabney.
“It’s unfortunate what happened, but I’ve loved being part of this team,” Dabney said. “Coach Till brought me up to varsity as a sophomore and I learned so much from [teammates] Brittney JnoBaptiste and Hannah Claywell. I’m happy that I’ve been able to have so many great coaches and teammates at RB.”
Dabney’s surgery is planned sometime within the next one to two months.
“I’m just doing some rehab now and trying to stay positive,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t remember anything from the play when I was injured. I watched film of that play about 140 times. I just remember hearing something pop and going down. I was trying to stay positive in the moment, but it’s tough.”
RBHS visits Illiana Christian on Friday, Jan. 16, for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The Bulldogs return home on Jan. 21 to take on Lyons Township in an intriguing non-conference game.