Boys Basketball notes: Riverside-Brookfield, despite roster turnover, still thriving

Senior center Stefan Cicic leads Bulldogs’ team off to 7-1 start

Expectations don’t change at Riverside-Brookfield.

Regardless of roster turnover, the Bulldogs expect to compete for a conference title and win 20 games.

Thus far, the Bulldogs are on course for both goals, winning their Metro Suburban opener against Elmwood Park on Dec. 8

Riverside-Brookfield coach Mike Reingruber said his team is pointing in the right direction. Despite a big changeover on their roster, the Bulldogs (7-1, 1-0) are on track for another 20-win season. Senior center Stefan Cicic, an all-state player last season, leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per game and shooting 77% from the field. Steven Brown is averaging 11 points per game.

“I feel good about our guys,” Reingruber said. “I think when you look at the makeup of our team, Stefan Cicic is the only one who played major minutes last year. Steven Brown came off the bench. Basically, we have an all- brand new group, so for us to be sitting at 7-1 and our best basketball is ahead, I’m happy with our progress.”

“From Thanksgiving to now, we’re playing way better defense, and that starts with Stefan and how active he’s become. This group is also very resilient and doesn’t get down and is super competitive. That showed in the St. Ignatius game, where we were down seven points with two and a half minutes to go and won. It’s a group that cares about each other and wants to be really good.”

With the 6-11 Cicic drawing the attention of opposing defenses, sophomore forward Cameron Mercer is thriving for the Bulldogs. The son of former NBA player Ron Mercer, the younger Mercer is taking steps to carve out his own name in hoops. The 6-2 Mercer is averaging 13 points per game.

“Cameron Mercer is giving up some great minutes on both sides of the ball,” Reingruber said. “He’s a very capable scorer and can really shoot it and also is a pest on defense. He never really takes a play off on either side of the ball. His upside is tremendous.”

Reingruber said his team is looking to make some waves in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic later this month. The Bulldogs are seeking their first Tosh title since 2001, when Shatone Powers was a standout guard.

“We’re getting though next week and really looking forward to Jack Tosh, which is one of top Christmas tournaments in the state and is even better this year,” Reingruber said. “We’re looking forward to testing ourselves against various styles.”

Lemont still playing at high level

Lemont (7-2, 3-0 South Suburban) is another team playing at a high level despite several key losses. Even with the graduation of Rokas and Matas Castillo, Lemont is playing solid team basketball, coach Rick Runaas said.

“The team is playing hard and playing well together,” Runaas said. “They are efficient with the ball whether that means playing with minimal turnovers or taking good shots. Defensively, we’re also playing well together.”

Ryan Runaas, Zane Schneider and Shea Glotzbach are three players stepping up this season for Lemont, Rick Runaas said.

“Ryan Runaas has been our leader by setting the tone offensively and defensively leading the team in scoring, assists and steals,” Rick Runaas said. “Zane Schneider has progressed more quickly than expected as a freshman. He’s our second-leading scorer and rebounder. Shea Glotzbach is our leading rebounder and does a lot of things through energy and hard work.”

Around the horn

The 49th Annual Jack Tosh Holiday Classic is just around the corner. The tournament released the top eight seeds in alphabetical order: Bolingbrook, Downers Grove North, Glenbrook South, Metamora, Riverside-Brookfield, Rolling Meadows, St. Patrick and York.

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network