Bryce Pacourek

As a state-qualifying cross country and track runner with long arms, Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Bryce Pacourek more than fulfills the conditioning and deflection requirements for the top of the girls basketball team’s 1-3-1 zone defense.

“I’ve always played the top for as long as I remember. It’s always my favorite position,” Pacourek said. “It’s a lot of fun running back and forth between the passes so that’s why I play up there. But it’s always fun because you get steals.” 

When the Bulldogs’ offense was colder than the tundra on Jan. 26 against De La Salle, their defensive effort saved them. 

Once they got going offensive, especially junior Niamh Larson, they dominated in a 56-45 home victory.

Larson’s first varsity double-double was impressive as she collected 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs (11-14).

Another big factor? The Bulldogs had 16 steals with Pacourek (5) and Emily Organ and Larson (4 each) leading the way.

The Bulldogs made just one of their first 19 shots, yet only trailed 9-5 after one quarter.

“Our shots were a little off in the beginning because lately we’ve been starting on fire. But we got it together on defense,” RBHS coach Jordan Mack said. 

Larson missed her first four shots but then scored 11 straight points for RBHS during the second quarter, including a conventional 3-point play. The Bulldogs led 25-17 by halftime and went ahead 46-26 early in the fourth quarter.

“I couldn’t hit too many shots, so I started going for more layups and they started dropping,” Larson said. “I had some breakaway steals so that was helpful. And good passing. No one’s selfish so we have good chemistry.” 

Other contributions were Pacourek (9 points, 6 rebounds), Organ (7 rebounds), Alyssa Morris and Lena Lembcke (6 points each), Mayan Covarrubias (6 rebounds, 3 assists) and Luna Lloyd (4 rebounds).

“Our shots weren’t falling, not sure why. We’ve been doing a lot of shooting in practice,” Pacourek said. “I feel like [steals] make a big deal. We’re a very quick team so as long as we finish, they make a big difference. I think we’re communicating a lot better so people know where they need to be and know that they can jump out because someone will have their back.” 

RBHS girls gymnastics

Lia Christiansen contemplates her balance beam dismount during a Gymnastic Meet at RBHS. | Ian McLeod

While Riverside-Brookfield High School sophomore Lia Christiansen may not have defended her all-around title at the Upstate Eight Conference Meet on Jan. 28, she and the Bulldogs performed way better.

With a second-place 35.55 – much higher than her winning 34.80 in 2022 – Christiansen earned four more top-five medals and the Bulldogs scored a season-high 133.05 points after their breakthrough 131.35 to win their invite Jan. 21.

Christiansen was second on floor exercise (9.4) and vault (9.35), .05 and .1 from first, respectively, and fourth on uneven parallel bars (8.3).

Senior Sarah Lindenberg was eighth on floor (8.6).

In the Bulldogs’ 126.00 to 106.75 victory at Morton on Jan. 25, Christiansen won all-around (34.20), floor (9.25), vault (8.8) and uneven bars (8.4) and Lindenberg won beam (8.1).

RBHS competes at the IHSA Geneva Regional on Feb. 1 with hopes of advancing individuals to the Hinsdale South Sectional on Feb. 7. Christiansen and junior Annabel Krueger were 2022 sectional qualifiers.