Bulldogs eager to keep bandwagon rolling

Perennial long-range shooter Maggie McCloskey back

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By CHRIS PUMMER

After one of the best seasons in the history of girls' basketball at Riverside-Brookfield, the Bulldogs know they'll be hard-pressed to do better this year.

RB won its first regional title in 22 years, swept through the Suburban Prairie Conference East and finished with a 27-4 overall record. While the Bulldogs bring back a solid core of players, there are still questions that will need to be answered.

That won't, however, change the way RB plans to go through this 2005-06 season.

"We don't talk about goals," said Bulldogs coach Larry Rocco, now beginning his fourth season on the girls' bench. "We have one goal, and that's to play hard. We feel that if we can do that, we'll have success. That's why it's our only goal."

RB's attack will be centered on record-setting guard Maggie McCloskey. Now a senior, the 5-foot-5 McCloskey scored 14.7 points and dished out 7.6 assists per game last season. She already holds the school record for three pointers made with 259 through her first three seasons.

McCloskey will be among the best players in the area, and has already committed to play basketball at Loyola University next year.

Also returning to the starting lineup is senior Erin Pfieffer. The 6-foot-2 center scored 8.7 points per game while pulling down 8.4 rebounds per contest as a junior. She'll be RB's top rebounding presence in the post, and the team will look for her to add to her scoring totals as well.

Junior Katelyn McCloskey gives the Bulldogs a third returning starter. She'll move from the power forward to the small forward spot occupied last year by RB's leading scorer Meghan Hutchens, who is now playing at UIC. The 5-9 post scored 7.7 points per game and pulled down five boards per game. With Hutchens gone, McCloskey will also be asked to pick up some of the offensive slack.

Senior Kristen Zeleny will step into the second guard spot to replace the departed Lauren O'Brien. Rocco says the loss of the graduated O'Brien can't be underestimated because of the small things the guard was able to give the Bulldogs. However, Zeleny also does the small things and will give RB a terrific defensive compliment to Maggie McCloskey in the opposite guard role.

Battling for the last starting spot is a trio of 5-foot-9 juniors. Anna Lusthoff, Lauren Orgler and Colleen Hartman will all get a chance to claim the role. Rocco says that as of now, Orgler might be ahead of the other two, but that it's still anyone's job for whoever can step up their game.

Hartman, a transfer from Morton, will also be a key backup in the post, where the Bulldogs are playing thin right now. Sarah Strait, a 6-foot-2 junior who would have been a key player down low for RB after logging big minutes last season, won't be back until January at the earliest after suffering an ACL injury earlier this year.

Also coming off the bench as a forward is 5-foot-10 senior Jill Polanski. Twins Stephanie and Jamie Magdic will back up the guard spots.

The Bulldogs have had a stranglehold on the SPC East, winning the conference title for three straight years. However, Lemont will join the fray this year, making the schedule instantly tougher.

RB will also be playing in the Minute-Man Christmas Classic at Morton College, the Sweet 16 tournament and its own Thanksgiving tournament.

The Bulldogs kick off the season Friday when they travel to Addison Trail for a non-conference match with a 7 p.m. tip-off. Their Thanksgiving tournament will begin the following Wednesday.

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