Arius Alijosius (shown above in action earlier this season) scored 29 points in RBHS’ tourney opener on Dec. 26 at York High School. On Dec. 20, he scored 30 during the Bulldogs’ win over St. Edward. | FILE

Marques Turner and his Riverside-Brookfield High School senior boys basketball teammates finally played in a holiday tournament for the first time since they were freshmen.

After the 2020 Tosh was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last season’s Bulldogs had to drop out of the 2021 Tosh because of a COVID outbreak in the team.

But, the Bulldogs seized the opportunity on Dec. 26 and defeated Schaumburg 59-38 in their opener at York’s 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.

“Not having played in it the last two years kind of stuck with us,” Turner said. “We want to win this.” 

RBHS (9-3) played Lake Forest in the second round on Dec. 27, after the Landmark’s print deadline. Undefeated Lyons Township (8-0) beat Batavia 61-34 in the first round and advanced to play Timothy Christian.

RBHS senior Arius Alijosius continued his great shooting against Schaumburg, hitting 7 of 9 three-point attempts en route to 29 points with five straight successful threes in the first half. 

Will Gonzalez had 12 points (10 in second half) and Stefan Cicic had eight points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Turner had three assists.

In the Bulldogs’ 78-49 victory over St. Edward on Dec. 20, Alijosius equaled his personal-best of 30 points with eight threes, one short of the single-game school record.

“It felt really good shooting [against Schaumburg],” Alijosius said. “I need that record. I’m trying.” 

The Bulldogs led Schaumburg 7-0 and a 10-0 run on Alijosius threes and back-to-back baskets by Steven Brown helped to open a 32-19 halftime lead.

When the Saxons closed to 38-32 with 2:34 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs responded with 13 unanswered points, seven by Gonzalez.

“The effort from the outset was great. We had a lot of energy. We got a lot of contributions,” RBHS coach Mike Reingruber said. “Obviously, Arius shot the ball well, but I thought we were really locked in defensively.”

Lyons Township High School’s strong defense held a fifth opponent this season to fewer than 35 points. 

During a 10:21 stretch of the first half, LTHS limited Batavia to six points on two threes in turning a 7-4 deficit into a 27-13 advantage. The Lions led 33-17 at halftime.

Opening in man-to-man defense before switching to zone, LTHS committed just two fouls the first three quarters.

“We start every single practice with defensive drills, doing full-court defensive slides and zig-zag ball handling,” starting senior guard Connor Carroll said. “Obviously, you need to score to win, but I think that we’re a very strong defensive team.” 

Nik Polonowski (14 points, 2 threes), Graham Smith (12 points), Louis Kaminski (11 points, 3 threes) and Jackson Niego (10 points, 4 assists) finished in double figures. Carter Reid (5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) and Matthew DeSimone (5 rebounds) also contributed. 

Kaminski enjoyed his best offensive game on 4-for-4 shooting. He had the Lions’ last six points of the first half on back-to-back threes. In the third quarter, Kaminski hit another three and a shot left of the lane as LTHS scored on its last 11 possessions to build a 57-29 advantage.

“The shot was feeling good, so I just kept shooting it,” Kaminski said. “It was just kind of a confidence level and once the confidence goes up, then it makes it a lot easier to play.” 

RBHS girls basketball

RBHS senior Luna Lloyd finished the Bulldogs second game on Dec. 26 with a bag of ice on her left hand for a jammed finger.

The Bulldogs (7-8) endured a rough start at the Sandburg Holiday Classic, losing to Minooka 50-37 in the consolation bracket after earlier losing to Downers Grove South 65-23.

“We had a hard time today. It happens,” said Lloyd, who had a team-high eight points against Downers South. “I think that it’s good for us to be playing in this tournament because it’s a lot of better teams. We might be losing to them but we’re still doing good things. We’re just having a hard time converting it to a win.” 

Junior Emily Organ, who was all-tournament at Oak Lawn on Dec. 10-17, had 10 points against Minooka. Julia Madera had six fourth-quarter points, Alyssa Morris had four points and Lloyd, Lena Lembcke and Ava Marrello each had three. Organ had four points against Downers South.

RBHS played Argo on Dec. 27 after the Landmark’s print deadline with the final round Wednesday. 

The Bulldogs lost 54-25 at Glenbrook North on Dec. 19.