After finishing third at its own Christmas tournament, the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls basketball team opened 2017 by losing three of five conference games.
While that tough stretch of games essentially eliminated their chances of winning the Metro Suburban Conference, the Bulldogs remain 16-7 overall with plenty of meaningful games left on the schedule.
The Bulldogs’ most recent victory occurred Jan. 10 against St. Edward in Elgin. RBHS earned a 58-51 win against the host Green Wave with solid performances from senior guards Lyndsey Hoyd (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Sam Bloom (12 points, 4 assists). Sophomore forward Maddie Meehan contributed eight points and seven boards, while freshman forward Sarah JnoBaptiste added five points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.
On Jan. 10, Bloom scored a game-high 27 points to go with six assists, four rebounds and two steals in a 60-57 loss against Illiana Christian. RBHS senior Maggie Shereck finished with six points, eight rebounds and two steals. Meehan had five points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
“I am proud of my team,” RBHS coach Dallas Till said. “We battled Glenbard South and lost a tough road game at Illiana by 3 points. I feel like we have great chemistry and camaraderie. The girls are enjoying the journey and we feel that thus far the season has been successful. We have received positive contributions from a number of players.
RBHS hosts Leyden on Thursday, Jan. 19 in the Main Gym. The Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Night with a pre-game ceremony recognizing seniors Colette Murray, Sophia Bolton, Taylor Jenson, Therese Hanley, Shereck, Bloom and Hoyd.
“I try to think to myself to be glad that it happened and not sad that it’s over,” Till said about the significance of Senior Night. “This large group of seniors, especially Samantha and Lyndsey, has been the face of the program for four years. I have enjoyed watching them grow as people and as players. They are a special bunch and it will certainly be bittersweet.”
The Bulldogs won their third straight game with a 72-60 victory against St. Edward Jan. 13. Leading 31-24 at halftime, RBHS methodically extended its lead against the Green Wave as senior guard Jalen Clanton led with the way with 19 points and eight assists.
Senior swingman Jalen Brooks (15 points, 5 rebounds), sophomore guard Zach Vaia (13 points, 6 assists) and junior guard Ryan Cicenas (11 points, 7 rebounds) also contributed for the victors.
RBHS is vying for a 16th straight conference this season. Despite losing several key players to graduation and for other reasons, the team is in contention for another league title. Clanton is arguably the best player in the Metro Suburban and Brooks is producing a terrific senior campaign. Cicenas is a superb shooter and Vaia has fit well into the starting lineup.
The Bulldogs (8-7) host Chicago Christian Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.
The Friars routed Providence St. Mel 75-40 as Jamal Nixon scored 14 points and Damari Nixon added 12 points. Fenwick (13-3, 5-0 Chicago Catholic League North) faced host Simeon on Monday, Jan. 16 (past deadline). At 15-0, the tradition-rich Wolverines are generally regarded as the best team currently in the state.
Last season, the Friars upset Simeon 71-68 as point guard Mike Smith shredded the visiting Wolverines with 28 points.
Looking ahead to the latter portion of this regular season and then postseason, Fenwick appears as formidable as ever.
Seniors Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon are two of the best and most versatile players in the area. The emergence of promising underclassmen like Damari Nixon and DJ Steward has helped the Friars as well. Role players like Billy Bruce, Mike O’Laughlin, AJ Nixon, Jack Henige and Sam Daniels provide depth.
The team has already notched impressive victories against teams like Oak Park and River Forest, Bogan, De La Salle and Proviso East.
The Friars also finished fourth at the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Classic.
“Overall, we did well at this tournament,” Fenwick coach Rich Malnati said about Proviso West. “There are twelve other teams from the tournament that would want to be in our position and take fourth place. We had a chance to do better, however, and you don’t get opportunities like that all the time.
“This is a great group. We’ll practice more and keep getting better.”
Lyons Township boys
After a 62-54 loss at Proviso West, the Lions look to get back on track against visiting Glenbard West Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The West Suburban Conference Silver Division matchup serves as the Lions’ annual “Blackout” game.
LTHS closed out 2016 by splitting four games at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic hosted by York High School. After losing their first two games of the tourney, the Lions bounced back with victories over area rivals Riverside-Brookfield 77-68 and Nazareth 57-47.
Cousins Connor and Noah Niego scored 20 points apiece against RBHS. Connor Niego tallied 15 points against Nazareth.