CHICAGO – A slow start doomed any chance Riverside Brookfield had of winning Tuesday’s supersectional against Stevenson.
The Patriots clinched a third straight trip to state by beating the Bulldogs 62-45 at Chicago State.
Stevenson (28-3) led 20-4 after a quarter and weathered an 8-0 run by the Bulldogs (28-4) to start the second quarter to go into the break ahead 39-18. RB got no closer than 16 points in the second half.
“We struggled offensively, but in the second half I thought we fought hard and made a game out of it,” RB coach Tom McCloskey said. “I’m not going to dwell on tonight. It’s been a great year. It’s a great group of kids that has done things the right way and made history in a lot of ways.”
The experience difference could have played a factor in the game. The Patriots had made it to state the past two years with star players Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw playing big roles on those teams.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were coming off the first sectional title in program history. Early on, RB struggled to score and the Patriots eased any upset fears with a strong start.
“It seemed they were a little tight on some of their shots and shots they normally make, but you can only guess on that,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said.
Rice recruit Cashaw had a game-high 23 points and Villanova commit Brunson had 13 for the Patriots. Sam Johnson led the Bulldogs with 10 points. Mark Smith, Jalen Clanton and Henry Trelenberg had eight points each for RB.
RB’s loss meant the end for seniors Johnson, Paul Sitkiewicz, Kevin Fitzgerald, Ryan Hanley and Jake Lucas. Johnson was the only starter of the group, but was also the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Juniors Daniko Jackson and Smith and sophomores Clanton and Trelenberg will lead what should still be a strong RB team into next season.
“The seniors will be missed,” McCloskey said. “They all did things the right way, they all pulled for each other and they all played for the team first.”