Riverside-Brookfield High School junior girls basketball player Emily Organ spent much of the first half of the IHSA Class 4A regional opener on Feb. 13 on the bench with three fouls.
“It was a hard start for me, but I knew I had to come out in the second half and show up for my team,” Organ said. “I’ve been playing with these seniors for a long time and I know how much it means to all of us to keep our season going.”
After halftime, hardly anything could stop Organ or the No. 11-seeded Bulldogs.
They lost to No. 7 Hinsdale Central 64-57 in the RBHS Regional semifinals, but not before Organ finished with a hard-fought 25 points and 19 of the Bulldogs’ 33 second-half points.
The Bulldogs (11-19) cut a 37-24 halftime deficit to 57-53 with 1:51 remaining.
“It Emily hadn’t gotten into foul trouble, I think the game would have been a little different. And that’s what she is, a gamer,” RBHS coach Jordan Mack said.
Sophomore Alyssa Morris (10 points with 2 threes), seniors Luna Lloyd (8 points) and Bryce Pacourek (4 points, 4 rebounds) and junior Mayan Covarrubias (5 points, 4 rebounds) also were key contributors.
The Bulldogs put aside losing their last three regular-season games, finishing with a 66-49 loss to Aurora Central Catholic Feb. 7 for a 2-6 record in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue.
“It’s so heartbreaking, being our last game, but I know we gave it our all, fought together,” Pacourek said. “[Organ] was very inspiring. Every loose ball, she was on the ground. She gave everything she had.”
After Organ scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to cut the gap to 46-41, the Red Devils (11-18) again pulled away 57-46 with 3:35 to go.
Consecutive baskets by Organ and Luna and a Morris three brought the Bulldogs to within four. The Red Devils responded with a key inside basket by sophomore Greta Dani with 1:34 left and then scored two consecutive layups as the Bulldogs tried to pressure the ball. The 6-foot Dani scored 10 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and had seven rebounds.
Organ ignited the comeback with 13 of the Bulldogs’ 15 third-quarter points, including a 3-pointer and four hard-earned free throws.
“I’m super proud of my team. We came into this game being underdogs but we showed up. We didn’t let that determine our mindset,” Organ said.
The Bulldogs graduate five seniors – Luna, Pacourek, Lena Lembcke, Devon Encher and Ava Marrello.
Juniors Niamh Larson, Amanda Buckley Julia Madera also contributed significant minutes.