To this day, Riverside Brookfield's Seamus Brennan still has a bad taste in his mouth from the 2004 Jack Tosh Holiday tournament at York High School.
"We really struggled in that tournament last year," said Brennan, a 6-4 guard. "We won our first game, but then we lost three straight and that had never happened to us before I had heard. It wasn't a good feeling."
Brennan and Co. are hoping to change that taste when they take part in the 32nd Annual tourney, which kicked off Tuesday morning (after deadline) in Elmhurst.
The Bulldogs battled Oswego in the last of eight games in the 16-team showcase.
"We feel like we have a good chance to win it this year," Brennan said. "We have Oswego first, and if we win that we'll get the winner of Willowbrook and York. So I think we got a really good draw."
The last time RB was the last team standing was in 2000, while coach Tom McCloskey's squad captured the consolation title in 2003.
"This is a prestigious tournament," McCloskey said. "It has a great field with a lot of big schools in it.
"While we didn't fair too well last year, we've had some success in this tournament in the past. It should give us a good idea of where we stand when it's over."
While the field features proud programs such as St. Ignatius, Brother Rice and Downers Grove South, this year's field is lacking the powerhouse teams of the past.
Wheaton South was awarded the tournament's top seed, followed by York, Downers South and St. Ignatius.
"You have teams like Wheaton South, Brother Rice and Downers South, but none of them are ranked high this year," McCloskey said. "I think we have good team speed, and overall I really like this team. I feel good about our chances."
McCloskey believes Matt Sandrik, Chris Parrish and Mark Gorman are just three players that will need to raise their games a notch if the Bulldogs plan to bring home some hardware.
"I think we'll bounce back from our bad performance last year," Gorman said. "The first game is always the big key, because you need to win to stay in the winner's bracket.
"We need to run and push the ball, because that's what we do. One of our goals was to win a holiday tournament this year, and this is our last chance to do that. We didn't win our Thanksgiving tournament, so hopefully we'll accomplish that goal in this tournament."
If Parrish, Gorman and Sandrik are on, it should open up the Bulldogs' inside game and make things easier for 6-6 center Jon Baldermann.
"This time of the year is always hectic," McCloskey said. "You don't know who your opponent is going to be besides for the first round.
"But it's also exciting, because it can give you a good start to begin the New Year."
But McCloskey also stressed that even if RB struggles in the tournament, it won't be the end of the world.
"It's not like this tournament is life or death," McCloskey said. "Our main goal is to win, but our first goal to start is to survive each game and advance. We have to worry about one game at a time, and if we do that we'll be fine."