By Marty Farmer
Although it's certainly unintentional, the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls basketball team appears to be a victim of its own success regarding the state playoffs.
Despite winning 20 games and the Metro Suburban Conference championship, the Bulldogs drew the 13th seed (out of 20 teams) in the Hinsdale South Sectional of the Class 4A state playoffs.
After dismantling Curie 58-12 in the quarterfinals of the Argo Regional, the Bulldogs were bounced out of the postseason in the next round via a 62-38 loss against St. Ignatius.
Against St. Ignatius, RBHS trailed the Wolfpack by just five points at one point in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs made just 12 of 45 shots (27 percent) as St. Ignatius scouted their opponents well.
Sophomore forward Brenna Loftus led RBHS with 17 points, while Leah Rettke and Cassandra Hines contributed six points and three rebounds apiece. Georgi Gomorczak finished with a team-high eight rebounds.
In their postseason opener, the Bulldogs cruised past Curie. Reflective of the final score, RBHS dominated the stat sheet as well, making 24 of 36 shots (67 percent) and scoring 31 points off turnovers. Led by Rino Hachimura (13 points on 6-for-6 shooting) and JnoBaptiste (10 points), 12 players scored for RBHS.
The quick exit from the playoffs, however, can't erase another solid season for RBHS under the guidance of head coach Dallas Till and assistant Mark Ruge.
"I'm so proud of all the girls for being able to pull out a conference title, especially with two big wins against Bishop Mac. That was a really big deal for us," Loftus said. "The thing I'll remember most about this season is how much fun we had together as a team."
After a 1-2 start, RBHS won six games in a row and 12 of 15 overall to become contenders in the Metro Suburban. Sweeping Bishop McNamara by scores of 69-64 on the road and 61-56 at home paved the way to winning the conference title.
The team's winning ways occurred in large part due to the players' willingness to buy into the Bulldogs' system. RBHS played very aggressively on offense, looking to score in transition off turnovers and fast breaks as much as possible.
When running their half-court offense, the Bulldogs relied on Loftus and JnoBaptiste to score. All-conference senior guard Mary Maloney directed the offense well, while Leah Rettke provided scoring, rebounding and energy. Angelina Ocampo is a promising player with a well-rounded game. Gomorczak had perhaps the most notable statistic of the season, pulling down 16 rebounds (9 offensive) in the aforementioned victory at home against Bishop McNamara.
Looking ahead to next season, Loftus, JnoBaptiste and Ocampo return to lead the Bulldogs in their bid for a second straight league title. Loftus earned conference MVP while JnoBaptiste and Ocampo were selected. as all-conference players.
"I'm extremely excited about what's in store for us next season," Loftus said. "I think we have a lot of potential to keep playing well. We have some promising years ahead of us."