The road to a 16th straight conference title for the Riverside Brookfield High School boys basketball team got tougher this month when two senior starters abruptly quit the team.

Senior guard Henry Trelenberg, a three-year varsity starter and the team’s second leading scorer, and 6-foot-6 senior center Calvell Randall, the team’s leading rebounder, both quit the team in the week following a 73-70 loss to Immaculate Conception on Dec. 2, a loss which snapped the Bulldogs 37-game conference win streak.

“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” said coach Tom McCloskey when asked about the players quitting. “That’s their decision.”

Trelenberg declined to comment when contacted by the Landmark and Randall could not be reached.

Trelenberg, a superb 3-point shooter, was averaging 17 points per game this season while Randall was averaging 8.6 points and 7 rebounds per game. Trelenberg made the all-tournament team at the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Classic hosted by RBHS, but he was reportedly not getting a lot of interest from colleges.

Multiple sources have told the Landmark that Trelenberg quit via a text message before the Bulldogs’ home game against Illiana Christian on Dec. 9, a game RBHS won 53-43.

Since then the Bulldogs (4-4, 1-2 Metro Suburban) have lost two straight games. (Tuesday night’s game at Fenton is after press time.) The Bulldogs were walloped by Hillcrest 70-44 on Dec. 11 at the Team Rose shootout. RBHS suffered its second close road conference loss falling to Aurora Central Catholic 80-77 on Friday despite a stellar game by senior Jalen Brooks. The 6-4 forward scored a career-high 34 points (23 in the first half) and hauled down a career-high 14 rebounds.

“I though Jalen Brooks had an outstanding night,” McCloskey said. “He was very effective on the inside scoring and he did a really good job on rebounds.”

Brooks was stationed at the high post against Aurora Central’s extended 2-3 zone defense that was set up to stop the Bulldogs outside shooters. RBHS got the ball to Brooks and he repeatedly drove to the basket and scored or got fouled. Brooks hit 12 of 14 free throws despite attempts by the Aurora Central student section to distract him by making hissing noises and calling out the names of snakes, a reference to a video that has gone viral showing Brooks’ stunned reaction to a large snake in his Zoology class.

“I thought it was really funny,” Brooks said of the attempts to distract him. “I enjoyed it.”

Jalen Clanton scored 14 points and handed out six assists despite being closely guarded all night. Ryan Cicenas scored 13 points and 5-11 sophomore guard Zach Vaia, who has moved into the starting lineup to replace Trelenberg, hit four 3-pointers to score 12 points.

But it was Aurora Central Catholic (5-2, 2-1) that had the hotter hand shooting from beyond the arc as the Chargers hit 12 3-pointers compared to eight for the Bulldogs.

Brett Czerak led the Chargers with 29 points. Kyle Czerak hit five treys on his way to 21 points, and Mac Cowen hit six 3-pointers for his 18 points.

“They’ve got three terrific shooters,” McCloskey said. “They played really well tonight.”

Aurora Central Catholic jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and led 46-43 after two quarters as both teams scored easily in the first half. The Bulldogs outscored the Chargers 22-14 in the third quarter as Clanton and Cicenas came alive to take a 65-60 lead into the final quarter.

Cowen’s 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining broke a 73-73 tie and the Chargers never trailed again. The Bulldogs missed three potential game-tying 3-pointers, two by Cicenas and one by Vaia, in the final 20 seconds.

The Bulldogs did not get a single point from a reserve Friday.

“We battled, it came down to a couple big shots by them,” McCloskey said.  “Nobody played bad. It was just Aurora Central Catholic was hitting a lot of shots tonight. We wll bounce back; we’ll be fine. These guys are a great group of guys and we’ll keep battling every day.”

Winning the conference championship is still the major goal.

“We’re going through some adversity, but I think that we’ll get it together,” Brooks said. “There’s still a chance we’ll win conference. Every other team has a loss. We’re remaining optimistic.”