Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Arius Alijosius started becoming a basketball sharpshooter during the COVID-affected spring of 2020.
Then a freshman at Stagg, his family began reserving court time at Moraine Valley Community College to get exercise.
Alijosius shot. Dad rebounded. Alijosius continued improving.
“As a freshman, I don’t really know how to describe my game, but not how it is today,” Alijosius said.
Now a prolific shooter, Alijosius used his final 3-pointer in his final home game Feb. 14 to make history.
Alijosius set the single-season school record with 104 threes in the 67-62 overtime victory over Aurora Christian that gave the Bulldogs (25-5) a perfect 12-0 mark while winning the Metro Suburban Conference Blue title for the second straight season heading into the Class 4A state tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Hinsdale Central Sectional.
“My last three. It was top of the key. I knew it was the homestretch. Thank God I got it, though,” said Alijosius, the Winona State recruit who passed the 103 threes by Dan Howe in 1991.
Juniors Stefan Cicic (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Will Gonzalez (13 points, 11 assists), Alijosius (12 points) and senior Hunter Ferguson (10 points, 3 threes) led the Bulldogs.
Gonzalez fed Ferguson for his corner three that sent the game into overtime.
“I’m not considered the best shooter on the team. Right when I caught it, I just knew I had to shoot it and it felt good coming off my fingertips,” Ferguson said.
Last season, the Bulldogs won the MSC Blue with an 11-1 record, splitting with Aurora Christian. RBHS needed triple overtime to beat the Eagles 72-66 Jan. 19 in Aurora.
“We always have great games with them. I’m just glad we came out on top,” RBHS coach Mike Reingruber said. “We really talked about the seniors, this is their last home game. They wanted to leave it all on the floor and fortunately we came away with the win.”
In the last minute of overtime, Ferguson suffered to a bloody nose while diving for a loose ball but by then the Bulldogs had a two-possession advantage.
“Both nostrils were leaking a lot. It was bad,” Ferguson said.
RBHS opens Lane Tech Regional play Feb. 22 against No. 11 Lane Tech with the winner playing No. 2 Hinsdale Central or No. 15 Proviso West for the regional title Feb. 24. No. 3 Curie or No. 5 Lyons Township most likely awaits in the March 1 sectional semifinals.
Alijosius has come on strong after opponents focused on stifling him following performances such as 29 points on 7-for-9 3-point shooting in the 59-38 victory over Schaumburg at York’s Jack Tosh Tournament Dec. 26 and 30 points with eight threes in a 67-57 loss to Curie in November, the Bulldogs’ only home defeat all season.
Last season as a junior transfer, his threes as a key reserve often provided a spark.
“He’s a phenomenal shooter. He definitely has come on the last few games and hopefully continues that into the state tournament,” Reingruber said. “He’s got good form. I don’t mess with it. He’s a hard worker. He puts tons of time into his shot and tons of effort.”
The left-handed Alijosius has developed a shooting workout all around the 3-point arc as well as mid-range shots and free throws, often when most exhausted. Alijosius was a York Tournament-best 18-for-18 from the free-throw line.
The day before Senior Night, Alijosius and his father had a 400-shot session.
“A lot of repetition and a lot of confidence,” Alijosius said. “You don’t let a little slump throw you off because especially when I’m in a slump I get in my head. You don’t let your confidence get shaken.”