While both the Riverside-Brookfield and Lyons Township boys' basketball teams brought plenty of punch on the outside to Saturday's match-up between the two rivals, it was the Lions' inside game that set the stage for their 79-67 win over the Bulldogs on "Pack The Place Night" at LT.
Together the two teams hit 19 3-pointers, but it was LT's ability to score from the paint that pushed the Lions over the top and the Bulldogs out of the picture. LT center Adam Powers scored 25 points and Andrew Corcoran scored 21 off the bench to overshadow RB's Alex Devaris, who scored a game-high 34 points and connected on eight 3-point baskets.
"Powers is 6-foot-7 and a Division I prospect and he had a stretch where he hurt us," RB coach Tom McCloskey said. "They're one of the best-shooting teams we've seen in a while and they shot the ball well. Alex Devaris stepped up and played hard for us and had a big night. All in all I thought we did a good job, but that's the game."
Devaris and Powers each paced their teams in the first quarter with 11 and nine points, respectively. The Bulldogs (13-7, 6-0) were within 25-24 with five minutes to play before halftime, but Corcoran hit a pair of 3-pointers and a 2-point basket to help LT open a 10-point gap by the intermission. Corcoran had 11 second-quarter points.
The Bulldogs kept charging, as Devaris hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, and later hit another that drew RB within 48-44 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Lions (17-4, 7-2) were able to regroup. After Todd Nyberg connected on a 3-point basket, LT kept feeding the ball inside to Powers. The senior center scored 14 points in the third quarter, and his basket-plus-a-foul 3-point play with 1:16 left in the period put the Lions lead back at 11 points.
"I like the way we were aggressive offensively," LT coach Conte Stamas said. "We didn t back off. They made a shot, and we came back and counterpunched. It was good to have a lot of people step up. That was a true team effort."
RB had briefly gotten inside on the Lions with buckets in the paint from Tyler Kos and Jon Baldermann, but once the lead reached double digits, the Bulldogs tried to rely on outside shooting to bring them back.
The Bulldogs fired off 10 shots in the final four minutes, seven of which were from beyond the arc. Only two of those shots went for baskets and LT hit 6-of-6 at the free-throw line to help seal the win.
Devaris scored his 34 points on 11-of-27 shooting.
Mike Halusek added 10 points for the Bulldogs, Kos added seven and Matt Sandrik had six. Powers scored his points on 11 field goals and 3-of-4 shooting at the charity stripe. Corcoran hit five 3-pointers for the bulk of his point total and Nyberg finished with 15. Mike Scavuzzo also finished in double figures with 11 points.
Saturday's match capped a week that saw the Bulldogs beat Latin 87-50 on Wednesday, and Elmwood Park 83-55 on Friday. The second game clinched at least a share of the Suburban Prairie West title for RB.
The Lions, meanwhile, suffered an upset Friday night 64-55 at the hands of Proviso West. Their lead in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference is down to one game over Oak Park. Those two teams split the season series.
Though the Lions had lost three of four going into Saturday's game, Stamas hopes the win over RB is a turning point.
"I give our kids a lot of credit because we've been struggling lately," Stamas said. "Their attitude, their enthusiasm and their character really showed because we were really down after (Friday's loss)."