Loss in Regional Final ends Bulldogs basketball season

Loss in Regional Final ends Bulldogs basketball season

Senior Jordan Dahms and Juniors Tyler Campbell and Liam Lesniak prepare for the big game

Cameron Kritikos, Sports Manager

All good things have to come to an end eventually, and that appeared to be very evident in the Regional Final. The Bulldogs battled all night against the talented team from Crane Tech, but in the end they came up short, ending their season.

Crane was in control from start to finish and won the Class 3A Regional Final with a 69-57 victory. This was the second straight season the bulldogs lost at home against Crane, losing last year 80-75 despite a 42 point performance by former guard Ryan Jackson.

The Bulldogs were searching for their 17th straight victory after beating Fenwick on Tuesday to advance to the finals. They struggled the entire game, only holding a one-point lead after a free throw by Junior Miki Ljuboja to give the bulldogs a 5-4 lead. Crane led 14-8 after the first quarter and extended the lead to 32-25 at halftime. The Dogs never went away though, they continued to fight and eventually cut the deficit down to only four points late in the fourth quarter. The Cougars went on a run of their own to put the game away, highlighted by two ferocious dunks by Junior Kendal Sydney.

Ljuboja, although he scored 16 points, never seemed to get in rhythm throughout the game. Crane used 6-8, 260 pound center Kaylen Shane on Ljuboja which seemed to pay off for head coach Chris Head.  Shane used his size and strength to block multiple shots. He fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but his presence down low was already felt as the game was out of reach.

Damonta Henry led the Bulldogs with 18 points while Senior forward Louis Marino chipped in with 13 points.

The loss ends another solid season for the Bulldogs. They ended their season with 23-5 record overall, with a 12-0 record in conference. RB also won their 11th straight Metro Suburban Conference title, quite the feat, along with winning the Bill Vandemerkt Thanksgiving Classic.

With the loss to Crane, the careers of five RB seniors came to a close: Louis Marino, Jordan Dahms, Andrew Hanley, Chris Duplancich, and Luke Nortier. Dahms and Hanley, along with Junior David Aldalpe shot very well during the 3 Point Competition before the game against Crane, well enough to advance to the next round at Glenbard South.

Although the Bulldogs will be losing five key contributors to this year’s squad, the future seems extremely bright for RB. The team returns the inside-outside tandem of Ljuboja and Henry along with Eric Loury and Liam Lesniak ,a junior forward who played excellent down the stretch coming off the bench for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Will Kincanon, after leading the Bulldogs to a conference title on the lower level, is expected to make the jump to the varsity squad and will be counted on to make an immediate impact.

Even though the pain from a tough loss will linger far into the spring, there is consolidation in that the Bulldogs should be even stronger next year and will look to avenge their loss to Crane.