Living by 3-pointers is one thing, but thriving on them is what the Riverside-Brookfield boys basketball team did in its 74-53 Metro Suburban Conference victory over Glenbard South on Friday in Glen Ellyn.
The Bulldogs (17-5, 10-0) shot 13 3-pointers to clinch coach Tom McCloskey’s 15th straight conference title overall.
“This one means a lot because we only have two seniors on the team and we really struggled with Glenbard South last year,” McCloskey said. “All summer and all fall we had this as a focus and for these guys to come in and step in and play like we have in the conference is really a compliment to them.”
Senior Jack VandeMerkt led the Bulldogs with an impressive offensive night. The 6-foot-7 senior forward showed his shooting skills dropping six 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 26 points.
“That’s definitely a trademark of our program here,” VandeMerkt said. “We shoot everyday for half hour. … We emphasized the last couple games screening for each other and getting good looks and I think when we get the clean looks we are just as good of a shooting team as anybody at knocking them down.”
Though the Raiders (12-9, 7-3) kept it close in the first quarter — actually leading 14-13 at the end of the first eight minutes — they struggled to keep up with the Bulldogs’ impressive shooting, especially from behind the arc.
Glenbard South didn’t hit a 3-point shot until junior Jake Miller hit one with less than four minutes left in the game and after the two coaches had emptied their benches.
“They shot the ball very well,” said Glenbard South coach Wade Hardtke. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well and we got ourselves in the hole. They’re big and like I said they shot the ball well from the perimeter and when they didn’t they were able to rebound it inside, so that makes for a long night.”
A 23-point second quarter and a 24-point third quarter had the Bulldogs thriving, and the Glenbard South shooting struggles left the Raiders having to work down low, against a bigger, stronger Riverside-Brookfield team.
“It’s a great accomplishment for this program and what coach McCloskey, coach (Mike) Reinbgruber and coach (Dan) Herbeck have done here,” VandeMerkt said. “It’s awesome to be a apart of something that not many people can say that they got going… and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Senior guard Chaun Rickette led the Raiders with 12 points and did well driving to the basket, but no other player was in double digits for Glenbard South.