Senior swingman Ryan Cicenas is a three-year varsity player and potentially prolific scorer. (William Camargo/Staff Photographer)

Over the past 10 years, Riverside-Brookfield High School boys basketball coach Mike Reingruber led the sophomore squad to a 209-31 record (including a 120-3 mark in conference. With Reingruber taking over the head coach position at the varsity level after Tom McCloskey retired this spring, the Bulldogs’ winning ways should remain intact.

Reingruber has already established his victorious ways at the varsity level, even if it doesn’t count. The veteran coach guided RBHS to a 24-12 record this summer. The Bulldogs also advanced to the quarterfinals of their own 18-team summer league before bowing out with a loss to eventual league champ Maine South.

In the Bulldogs’ 15th Annual Summer Shootout, Curie defeated Whitney Young 80-53 to win the championship. Tourney co-MVPs  6-foot-7 Tyrese Martin and 6-foot-8 Treavon Martin powered the Condors to the title.

In the other brackets at the RB Shootout, St. Patrick won second place, Batavia third place and Loyola fourth

All told, the Bulldogs have played in about seven different tournaments, leagues and shootouts. The summer has been a success by any measure.

“We kicked off summer with our own annual shootout and then our RB summer league,” Reingruber said. “I think we played fairly well at all the events we competed in this summer. We try to make the summer schedule as difficult as possible to prepare us well for the regular season. We also can get a taste of playing against different teams and style of play.”

More importantly, summer basketball serves as an opportunity for Reingruber and the RBHS coaching staff to evaluate and develop its players.

“We look for the development of each individual player,” Reingruber said. “Summer basketball also helps us determine which groups work best together, what kind of lineups we like, and where our players get a shot to show us what they can do.

“Whether it’s fighting for a starting spot, trying to make the rotation or just making the team, competition is a good and healthy component of our program.”

While the varsity will certainly feature plenty of new personnel, a few stalwarts return from last year’s varsity which struggled with a 12-16 record.

Junior point guard Zach Vaia and senior swingman Ryan Cicenas will start for the Bulldogs next season.

“Zach is a tough, heady point guard who makes things run for us,” Reingruber said. “Ryan is a three-year varsity player who we are expecting huge things from this season. These two guys are returning varsity players who have established themselves as starters.”

Senior forward Jason Bageanis, a solid interior presence, will likely see plenty of playing time as well. Junior Andrew Veon, a 6-3 forward, has also made a positive impression due to his versatility.

“Some other players have stepped up, but really playing time is up for grabs,” Reingruber said. “We have a lot of depth and guys pushing each other. I really like our talent and depth. We have interchangeable parts because of players who can handle multiple positions.”

The Bulldogs did lose guard Jalen Clanton to graduation in 2017. He was the final starting player on the RBHS team that won the program’s only sectional championship in 2015. The other starters on that historic squad which finished 28-4 were Sam Johnson, Mark Smith, Daniko Jackson and Henry Trelenberg.

Whether RBHS can return to such heights as the 2015 season remains to be seen, but Reingruber and the Bulldogs certainly have a plan of attack. The approach is anchored in hard work starting each summer.

“Summer is an important time for our basketball program,” Reingruber said. “Starting with Tom [McCloskey], we had a vision as a coaching staff to make our team better in the summertime. We wanted to face the best players and teams so why not bring them to us.

“We can handle the scheduling, and our shootout and summer league have evolved into some of the best around Chicago. Plus, the players get to face great competition with many college coaches in attendance.”

The Bulldogs open the regular season by hosting the Jack VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 20-25. Until then, Reingruber trusts his players will put in their work on the hardwood.

“July is the AAU season which presents players a good opportunity to get out of their comfort zone a bit,” Reingruber said. “In the fall, we will have open gyms and the players need to get in the weight room. The offseason is really about guys working on their game to get better.”