Bulldogs win first regional in 23 years

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Well-balanced scoring was the recipe for success for the Riverside-Brookfield girls' basketball team last week as the Bulldogs won their first regional in 23 years by crushing Oak Park and River Forest 63-44.

The Bulldogs were led in scoring by center Erin Pfieffer, who had a game high 20 points, and was helped by forward Meghan Hutchens' 16 points. Forward Katelyn McCloskey chipped in 12 points in the win.

Both teams came out strong to begin the game, and for a while saw a duel between centers as the teams traded baskets between Pfieffer and OPRF center Ashleen Bracey. The Bulldogs rebounded very well especially on the offensive end, and capitalized on numerous Huskie miscues to score easy points. RB benefited not only from its opponent's turnovers but also on the slick shooting of Hutchens and McCloskey.

When the shots weren't falling, Pfieffer was right there to clean up the mess and put in easy buckets. Pfieffer made the baskets look easy as the OPRF defenders appeared lost and incapable of defending under their own basket.

"Erin Pfieffer came on huge for us. She played really well tonight," said Riverside-Brookfield head coach Larry Rocco.

Despite the dominance of Pfieffer, the Huskies continued to score, and kept it close, as the first quarter ended 12-11 in the Bulldogs' favor.

OPRF came out strong in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs kept up their unselfish play. Hutchens, McCloskey, and Pfieffer continued to score as well as point guard Maggie McCloskey, who contributed to the offensive production with 12 points.

Thanks largely in part to OPRF's sloppy play, and RB's substantial number of second chance points, the Bulldogs pulled ahead by six with three minutes left in the half.

The Huskies cut that to three before Hutchens and Pfieffer went on a tear, leading the Bulldogs on a 9-4 run in the last two minutes to take a 33-25 lead into halftime.

The Huskies' turnover and rebound woes only intensified in the third quarter, despite pulling within four points early. But the team was unable to mount much of a comeback, despite the efforts of guard Brittany Marshall who had 11 points.

RB had a 13-point lead after three quarters of action.

The fourth quarter saw more of the same, as the Bulldogs stiffened up on defense, and denied OPRF any offensive momentum. The Bulldogs went up 19 points midway through the quarter, and the Huskies didn't get within 15 the rest of the game.

"It was really a team effort tonight," said Rocco after the game. "We were able to keep OPRF's top scorers down, and had great contribution off the bench. We really played hard, and some of our girls just had unbelievable games."

The Bulldogs took on Trinity, the winner of the River Forest Regional, in the first round of the Lyons Township Sectional on Tuesday (after deadline). A win would pit them against either Fenwick or Lyons Township at Lyons on Thursday (7:30 p.m.).

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