For just more than a half Tuesday night, it looked like the Metro Suburban Conference girls basketball race might just go down to the wire this season.
But that's when Glenbard South (17-6) blitzed visiting Riverside-Brookfield with a 19-0 run on its way to a 66-47 win that lifted the Raiders to a two-game lead on the Bulldogs and clinches at least a share of the league title with two games left.
The Raiders led just 34-32 at the half and then 36-35 early in the third quarter following a three-point play by R-B's 6-foot-5 freshman, Dana Rettke. But the Bulldogs, who took the floor with impressive marks of 21-4 overall and 8-1 in the MSC, did not score again in the quarter as the hosts used a full-court trapping defense on one end and some sharp shooting on the other end to take a 55-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"Our defense was really great. We stepped it up, got a lot of turnovers and we got on a run," said Raiders forward Tomei Ball, who led all scorers with 23 points and added 9 rebounds and 4 steals. "We just got into a flow."
Bulldogs coach Dallas Till's team is now 0-2 against the Raiders and 8-0 against the rest of the league. He had three players score in double figures in the game but knows his team was not quite ready for what the Raiders threw at them.
"They're just superiorly coached," he said. "They're a great team … give all the credit to them. Right now they're just a lot better than we are."
On a night when Steffy Bazigos, one of Glenbard South's leaders, was plagued by fouls and a subpar shooting night, it didn't matter, even against the Raiders' toughest league foe. Center Sydney Baumann had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while blocking 3 shots, and Ivana Markovic and Alex LaPonte helped spark the offense as the Raiders took a big step toward the league championship.
"It's one of our goals to win conference this year and we're happy to be one step closer," said Ball, who made a trio of 3-pointers against R-B. "We have a deep bench that we can count on and everybody did a real nice job tonight."
Raiders coach Julie Fonda said her team executed on both ends of the floor much better in the second half but added that it was Ball's strong play throughout the game that made a difference.
"She's awesome. She's steady Eddie for us," Fonda said. "She's always in the right place for us at the right time and she's so consistent with her shooting. She was a sparkplug tonight. Steff struggled a little tonight with her shot, and Tomei was right there to pick her up."