The Riverside-Brookfield, Oak Park and River Forest and Fenwick High School boys basketball teams collectively finished 66-22 last season.
Sharing high expectations for next season, the Bulldogs, Huskies and Friars all took step one in their development at the 13th Annual Riverside-Brookfield High School Summer Shootout over the weekend.
The two-day tournament included 36 teams, featuring several of the premier city and suburban teams, competing in nine pools (four teams per pool) of competition.
“This tournament was really [RBHS assistant varsity coach] Mike Reingruber’s vision,” RBHS head coach Tom McCloskey said. “It’s something he wanted to do 13 or 14 years ago and he did it. He deserves a lot of credit and our coaches, players and parents always help out so it’s really a community effort. We’re very proud of the fact Riverside-Brookfield has become a hub of high school basketball activity during the summer.”
While RBHS hosts multiple tournaments and leagues during the offseason, the summer shootout is as good as it gets in terms of competition. This year’s field of teams included Class 4A defending state champion Stevenson, 3A champion St. Joseph, perennial Chicago Public League powers Simeon and Whitney Young, and St. Rita among many other excellent teams.
“The quality of teams we face at the RB shootout is tremendous,” OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. “We played Hinsdale South, Curie, Ridgewood, Loyola, St. Ignatius, Downers Grove South and Bogan in a matter of a few days. You can’t beat that type of competition.”
Actually, the Huskies did defeat the competition (at least most of it), finishing the shootout with a 6-1 record and semifinals appearance. In Saturday’s championship bracket action, the Huskies cruised past St. Ignatius 62-47 and Downers Grove South 54-43. Tournament champion Bogan derailed the Huskies’ bid for the title with a 57-48 win in the semifinals. Kenwood edged Simeon 49-47 in the other semifinal. In a final thriller, Bogan topped Kenwood 52-50 for the championship.
Looking ahead to next season, OPRF returns the bulk of its roster from last year’s 16-11 squad. The Huskies are loaded with promising frontline talent including 6-4 sophomore Alan Griffin, 6-4 junior Cameron Gross and 6-6 junior Jared Scott. Senior guards Breshawn Wilkerson, Connor Fuller and DeAndre Enoch offer experience, toughness and talent in the backcourt.
“We’re very excited about next season,” Maloney said. “We’ll have a system that really complements our players’ size, talent and versatility.”
Fenwick also benefitted greatly from taking part in the RB summer shootout. The Friars, who split four games, lost 47-45 in double-overtime to Hillcrest in an elimination game of the second-place bracket. Although star guard Mike Smith didn’t play in the event, the Friars still showcased plenty of their top players including 6-5 senior forward Mike Ballard, 5-9 senior guard Quinn Fisher and 6-3 junior guard Jacob Keller. Jamal Nixon, AJ Nixon, Charlie Boyle, Jay Militello, Nico Hobbs and Sam Daniels also figure prominently into the Friars’ future.
“This tournament gives us a chance to see where we are at as a team,” Ballard said. “Obviously, we haven’t really played together since several months ago so it’s good to see how we’re doing. Our expectation is to be one of the top teams in the state next year.”
As for tourney host RBHS, the Bulldogs will also enter next season brimming with confidence. RBHS return four starters from last year’s historic squad which finished a program-best 28-4 with a 14th straight conference title and first supersectional championship. Daniko Jackson, Jalen Clanton and Henry Trelenberg comprise an excellent group of combo guards. 6-7 senior center Mark Smith will anchor the paint, while promising varsity newcomers Jalen Brooks and Ryan Cicenas and 6-2 senior James Kacmarczyk are also expected to contribute.
Trelenberg, who scored 30 points Saturday during an 83-51 win over St. Rita, believes summer basketball prepares the Bulldogs perfectly for the regular season.
“We play the best of the best during the summer,” he said. “Hosting the shootout is awesome because I live so close and we get to play great competition. We have so many weapons on our team and so many ways to score that I just play good defense and score when I can. I’ve been working on my left hand and getting to the basket. I’ll also need to rebound more next season.
“We made history last season. Since we made it to a supersectional this year, we’ll know what to expect this season and hopefully take it even further.”