An injury plagued season came to an abrupt halt on Thursday night for the OPRF girls' basketball team. The Huskies (22-8), who have had several players either out with injuries or playing with pain throughout the season, fell to Riverside-Brookfield 63-44 in the Oak Park Regional championship.
The Huskies struggled to hold off RB forwards Meghan Hutchens (16 points) and Erin Pfieffer, who poured in a game high 20 points. OPRF started off well, feeding the ball down low early and often to the twin tower tandem of forwards Ashleen Bracey (14 points) and Amber Slaughter (8 points). However, turnovers began to plague the Huskies. On the slick shooting of Hutchens, forward Katelyn McCloskey, RB converted the turnovers directly into points. When the shots failed to fall, Pfieffer, who didn't score from more than seven feet from the basket all game, was right there to put the miss in for an easy bucket.
"I was surprised by how often Pfieffer was able to score, especially because we talked about stopping her. But we just couldn't do it," said OPRF head coach Adrian Newell after the game.
The Huskies were incapable of stopping the second chance points of Pfieffer, but were able to keep it close thanks largely in part to the play of guard Brittany Marshall, who had 11 points. The first quarter ended with the Huskies trailing 12-11.
OPRF jumped off to a good start in the second quarter. Kate Corkle came up with a steal, hit a timely 3-pointer, and consistently fed passes down to Bracey and Slaughter.
But Huskies were not able to duplicate their offensive intensity at the other end, as the they continued to struggle defensively under the basket, and the Bulldogs posted a six point lead with three minutes left in the half.
Marshall sliced the lead in half with a 3-pointer, but the second chance points, as well as the well balanced scoring of the Bulldogs put the Huskies in a hole down the stretch. Pfieffer and Hutchens put on an offensive clinic, leading the Bulldogs on a 9-4 run to end the half, turning their opponent's deficit to eight. The half ended with RB leading 33-25.
The Huskies showed brief signs of life to start the third quarter, bringing the score to within four points, but turnovers soon nagged the team again.
RB took a 41-31 lead at one point in the period.
Marshall provided OPRF's only real spark late in the quarter, which was quickly countered by a Pfieffer lay-up, or a Hutchens jumper. By the end of the period, OPRF had no offensive production, and were visibly flustered. The Bulldogs went up 13 to end the quarter, and were well in control of the game, leading 50-37.
The fourth quarter saw more of the same as the Bulldogs dominated at both ends and the Huskies looked lost. The Huskies went down by 19 midway through the quarter, and didn't get closer than 15 points for the remainder of the game.
"RB is a good team that always plays well late in the game; they went on a good run in the second half and we couldn't recover," said Newell. "We made a lot of mistakes, and tried to do too much too quickly."
The Huskies lose three starters to graduation, including guards Marshall and Corkle, as well as guard/forward Tazia Middleon, but will return both Bracey and Slaughter.