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Sam Johnson dominates as Riverside-Brookfield tops St. Ignatius

The rise of Riverside-Brookfield is about the evolution of Sam Johnson into a standout and versatile player who is dangerous at any part of the floor.

“He’s a beast,” Bulldogs coach Jack McCloskey said.

The 6-5 senior forward registered a double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds and sparked a decisive run as the No. 12 Bulldogs ran past No. 19 St. Ignatius 68-60 in the quarterfinals of the Jack Tosh Classic at York on Monday.

Riverside-Brookfield (12-0) advanced to the semifinals against DePaul Prep on Tuesday.

Johnson finished with 13 points in the second half and scored a twisting drive and a putback during an 8-0 Riverside-Brookfield run that broke the game’s final tie.

“I’m more aggressive and more comfortable in the flow of the game now,” Johnson said. “I feel more confident and that leads into other things.” Johnson registered five offensive rebounds and used his size and quickness to slice toward the basket.

In a game that saw each team mount different runs and make critical adjustments, Riverside-Brookfield maintained its composure.

“That was just mental toughness,” Johnson said. “We never got down on ourselves, even when it wasn’t going our way. They’re a great defensive team and we had to match their intensity and I thought we did that.”

Junior guard Daniko Jackson also scored 19 points for the Bulldogs. He did the bulk of his damage at the line, as St. Ignatius was forced to foul as Riverside-Brookfield pulled away in the fourth quarter.

St. Ignatius senior guard Riley Doody, the team’s emotional sparkplug, scored 14 points and added nine rebounds for the Wolfpack (9-2). He drilled two short jumpers at the start of the fourth quarter for the Wolfpack’s final lead at 45-43. Johnson responded with a 3-pointer.

“We feed off of our defense, and we were getting into a lot of foul trouble,” said Doody, who fouled out with just over two minutes remaining. “We definitely felt like we had the momentum going into the second half. They started off kind of shaky, but they’re a great team and played better and we were kind of timid, especially in that first half.”

David Ogele, a 6-6 junior, registered a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds for St. Ignatius. Guard Kailan Lee hit three 3-pionters in adding 13 points. The Bulldogs’ size and speed on the perimeter swung the game in their favor.

“We just have great balance as a team,” Johnson said. “I imagine it’s tough to defend us because we have so many different players that can do different things.” Most importantly, Riverside-Brookfield forced its preferred quick tempo, removing the Wolfpack’s key advantage.

“You have to get a lead on them, because if you fall behind they’re going to slow it down you, but fortunately we had the lead for most of the game,” McCloskey said.

Center Mark Smith added 10 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs. Guard Jalen Clanton hit two 3-pointers in contributing eight points.