RIVERSIDE – Typically, freshmen aren’t capable of replacing quality seniors, but so far three freshmen, Samantha Bloom, Dane Rettke and Lindsay Hoyd, have stepped up to make Riverside Brookfield a quality team once again.
The Bulldogs began the season 6-0 and went 5-0 at the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Tournament to get the season started on the right foot. Bloom and Rettke are starting and making a big impact right away.
“All of our freshmen have really stepped up,” RB coach Dallas Till said. “They’ve really mixed well with our veteran kids. I really couldn’t be happier with their development already. It feels like they’re seasoned veterans with the way they play.”
Till had the task of figuring out who could replace leading scorers Hannah Claywell and Brittney JnoBaptiste from a year ago, but so far the Bulldogs haven’t missed a beat. Junior forward Janae Dabney has been a big presence inside, fighting for rebounds and scrapping for points, but Rettke has joined her to form a potent duo in the paint.
Rettke is 6-foot-5 with basketball skills to go with her size. Bloom, a guard, scored double figures in three tournament games, including 27 in a 56-55 win over Mount Assisi.
“They really give us a diverse team because we have shooters and a 6-5 girl down low with me to help out a lot with intimidation and getting shots up all over the place,” Dabney said.
The one-point win over Mount Assisi was the only close game in the tournament. RB won the other four games by an average of 21.25 points per game.
Dabney averaged 13 points per game during the tournament. The junior forward is stepping up to be the consistent scorer they needed this season.
“We got the ball inside to Janae, and when we do we’re tough to stop,” Till said. “We have some shooters when she kicks it out. And our young kids have really meshed well with our veterans, even sooner than I expected.”
The Bulldogs opened Metro Suburban Conference play at Fenton on Tuesday and play again at Timothy Christian on Dec. 10. Two holiday tournaments, at Oak Lawn in mid-December and hosting the RB Holiday Classic around Christmas, will give the Bulldogs plenty of games to see just how good the freshmen really are.
“I feel like we still have to get the chemistry of the whole team down,” Dabney said. “We have some little ones and older ones. Getting everything back together is going to be hard. I think we have all the parts to make a good team. It’s getting to know each other a bit more.”
Bill VandeMerkt tourney scores
RB 56, Mt. Assisi 55
Samantha Bloom 27 points
RB 65, Ridgewood 31
Janae Dabney 13 points
RB 46, Lisle 27
Dabney 15 points
RB 60, Morton 34
Dabney 14 points; Dana Rettke 12 points; Bloom 11 points
RB 55, West Chicago 39
Dabney 14 points; Bloom 11 points