While recovering from illness last week, Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Will Gonzalez proved to be a sponge rather than a couch potato.
“I’ve been watching a lot of Dennis Rodman film, so I’ve been looking at how to get rebounds and help the team out more any way I can,” Gonzalez said.
On Jan. 13, Gonzalez had an uncanny nose for rebounds much like Rodman, the NBA Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bulls standout.
Gonzalez amassed a personal-best 16, along with 12 points and five assists, in the Bulldogs’ 81-38 victory at Timothy Christian.
After also beating Wheaton Academy 59-47 in front of a Pack the Place crowd Jan. 10, the Bulldogs (16-4) remain an undefeated first in the Metro Suburban Blue at 5-0.
Before Timothy Christian, Gonzalez said he never had more than 10 rebounds in a game.
“I was just going for the rebound every time. I just felt like that would help us get in transition and get easy points,” Gonzalez said.
Other Bulldogs had impressive stats and spurts against Timothy Christian.
Stefan Cicic just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds and added four dunks and two blocked shots. Arius Alijosius had 20 points with four threes, Steven Brown had 10 points with two threes and Moses Soto had seven fourth-quarter points with a three.
“[Gonzalez] went to get the ball. He played hard. It was great,” RBHS coach Mike Reingruber said. “I thought it was one of our best overall team efforts this season. Eleven guys scored. We had multiple guys clicking and it was a great team effort. A lot of guys stepped up.”
Ahead 10-5 midway through the first quarter, the Bulldogs followed with a 9-0 run and two 7-0 run to open a 39-19 halftime lead.
“I’m glad we were able to keep that intensity and keep pushing,” Reingruber said. “That’s something we didn’t do [against Wheaton Academy]. So it was good to kind of learn from that and kind of keep the foot on the gas and keep going.”
Alijosius had 12 of the Bulldogs’ 17 first-quarter points. Cicic had nine of the 22 second-quarter points with three of his dunks. Gonzalez had seven rebounds in the first quarter and seven points in the third quarter.
Reserve Brown made all four of his shots for another double-digit game. A week ago, with Gonzalez unavailable, Brown had 14 points off the bench against Nazareth.
“I feel like my role off the bench is whatever the team needs, I’ve got to come do it. Get guys going, bring energy on defense and both ends of the floor, offense too,” Brown said.
Against Wheaton Academy, Cicic (22 points, 11 rebounds) had his third straight 20-plus effort. Gonzalez (14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. Alijosius (10 points) and Hunter Ferguson (7 points) each had a three.
The Bulldogs won 56-45 at Fenwick on Jan. 16 and beat Indiana power La Lumiere on Jan. 14 at Marshall as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City/Suburban Shootout.
Cicic (17 points), Gonzalez (16 points) and Alijosius (12 points) led the Bulldogs over Fenwick.
“We put together four solid quarters,” Reingruber said. “I loved, loved, loved our toughness. We made a lot of the hustle plays, winning the 50-50 balls, taking charges – all of the little things of toughness that were a key to the game.”
Against La Lumiere, Alijosius (20 points, 6 threes), Cicic (21 points, 9 rebounds), Gonzalez (9 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and Ferguson (7 points) led the Bulldogs, who used a 16-6 second quarter for a 31-24 halftime lead.
This story has been changed to update the team’s win-loss record.