COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge junior guard Skylar Tolson is reminded of losing every time he wakes up.
Articles hang on Tolson’s bedroom wall from the Bruins’ most painful losses, including the 56-46 loss to Fort Zumwalt South in last year’s sectional matchup, ending the Bruins’ season with a 23-2 record.
“That’s a feeling I’ll never forget,” Tolson said. “That’s something I don’t want to happen again. It fuels my fire.”
The obsession with winning goes back to his childhood when he would play video games leading either the Maryland Terrapins or a self-created team to a perfect season. Anytime Tolson’s team got close to losing, it was time to hit the reset button and start over.
Earlier this season against Raytown South, Tolson thought he might have cost the Bruins a game when he fouled Raytown South’s Dominque Newton behind the 3-point arc with the Bruins leading by three points. Newton made the three free throws to tie the game with under five seconds to go.
“I was down on myself and coach was obviously pretty mad,” Tolson said.
On the proceeding inbounds play for the Bruins, the ball bounced off two Raytown South players right into the hands of Tolson, who stood under the basket and scored the winning layup as the buzzer sounded.
“He made me mad one minute,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “Then, in under 10 seconds, he made me happy. That’ll be a moment he never forgets.”
Scanlon and the Bruins hope for more unforgettable moments in the next three weeks in the Class 5, District 10 tournament. Rock Bridge plays Hickman at 6 p.m. tonight at Rock Bridge.
“Right now, I’m entirely focused on basketball,” Tolson said. “We feel good going into the postseason. We’re more well-rounded this year and don’t rely on individuals as much.”
It is easy to understand why Tolson is so obsessed with winning. His first love was basketball and at the beginning of his freshman year, he quit the other sports he played to focus on basketball year-round. A half basketball court in his back yard, complete with an NBA-sized backboard shows the whole neighborhood how serious Tolson takes his favorite sport. Some of his best memories come from playing HORSE with his grandfather, Terry Goeringher, in the driveway at his old house. Tolson perfected shooting the ball from behind the basket, over the backboard and then through the net.
“He’d get really frustrated because he couldn’t make it,” Tolson said of his grandfather.
According to Scanlon, sometimes Tolson takes things a little too seriously and could even loosen up a little.
“Sometimes, towards the beginning of the year, I felt like I was taking it too seriously and being too hard on myself,” Tolson said. “Once I relaxed, I started having some fun and doing well.”