Riverside-Brookfield pulls away from Schaumburg in 2nd half

After enjoying the Christmas holiday with his wife and young daughters, Schaumburg coach Jason Tucker turned his attention to coaching his team's opening-round match versus Riverside-Brookfield Monday afternoon in the 48th edition of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York High School in Elmhurst.

"Being in this tournament is a great experience for our guys," Tucker said. "This is, if not the best, one of the best tournaments in the state of Illinois and we're very happy to be a part of it."

After falling to the Bulldogs 59-38 in his tourney debut as Saxon mentor he found the experience to be a humbling one.

"I was very proud of how we battled but we're kind of sick of battling and we want to have (positive) results," Tucker said.

Tucker was starting to see some of that as Schaumburg (4-7) rallied from a 17-point second quarter deficit with a 17-6 run that brought them within 38-32 on a layup from sophomore guard Jordan Tunis (team-high 10 points) with 2:33 left in third.

It was there that the Bulldogs (9-3) went on a decisive 18-2 surge in the closing minutes of the quarter. The run began with a Hunter Ferguson layup followed by six of junior forward William Gonzalez's 12 points.

Those were wrapped around the sixth 3-pointer from 6-3 senior guard Arius Alijosius. Alijosius, a Winona State recruit, wound up hitting 7 of 9 from beyond the arc for a game-high 29 points with his last triple leaving R-B ahead 56-34 with 2:55 left.

Gonzalez spoke of his team's resolve that allowed it to pull away from Schaumburg.

"We needed to get the momentum back," Gonzalez said. "It was a real tight game. They're (Schaumburg) a good team. They're physical. We were ready for them from the (opening) jump."

Gonzalez also talked about having an early morning shootaround with his team to get ready for the midday contest.

"It was very tough," Gonzalez said. "It was very different (compared to playing at) 7:30 at night. I had a lot of shots (to) get the legs loose. We gained a lot of energy to get this win."

The Bulldogs advanced to the Tosh championship bracket where it will face Lake Forest (5-5), a 52-31 winner over Chicago Leo (4-6), Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. The Lions will face Schaumburg in consolation round play at 10 a.m. as Tucker seeks to gain more valuable experience for his young unit.

"We've been saying that we're young and inexperienced but that only goes so far," Tucker said. "We have to stop using that as an excuse and be better every single day and I think we'll continue to get better. We've just got to stay the course. We just need guys to step up and we'll be prepared and be ready to go."

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