UNION — Behind the support of a rowdy, green and yellow clad fan base, the Rock Bridge girls basketball team defeated Fort Zumwalt West 56-39 in its Class 5 sectional game Wednesday at Union High School.
The Bruins (23-6) started quickly, rushing out to a 15-2 lead before ending the first quarter ahead 17-5.
“We set the tone,” junior Katherine Harry said. “We had a quick start and they weren’t able to come back.”
The Bruins controlled the tempo early, forcing six first-quarter turnovers and capitalizing with easy buckets in transition.
Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said she was happy with the Bruins’ ball control and that her team was able to attack when they wanted to, but was able to play offense as well and force the Jaguars to play defense.
After being limited to 6 points in the Bruins’ District 10 championship victory Friday against Hickman, Harry led the Bruins Wednesday with 17 points against the Jaguars.
“She had a really good game,” Rock Bridge senior guard Andrea Seabaugh said. “We were getting her some really good looks and she took advantage. She knew she had to step it up.”
Harry said Nagel hinted that Fort Zumwalt West would be playing behind her, and that the Bruins should get the ball inside for some easy baskets.
Sophomore guard Amaya Williams added 13 points for the Bruins, including a layup as the result of a drive through three defenders as time expired in the first quarter.
The Bruins defense was impressive as well, allowing only 13 first-half points. The Bruins got their hands in passing lanes and forced Fort Zumwalt West to take offbalance shots, leading to a 32-13 halftime lead.
“It’s more of a team effort,” Seabaugh said. “The guards just control the top part of the press. One of our themes is to make something happen and we did a good job.”
The Jaguars leading scorer, Gwen Williams, who averages 14.6 points per game, was held to 11 points, but eight of those came in the second half after the game was already out of reach.
With the win, the Bruins advance to the state quarterfinals, where they will play Waynesville (19-5), a 51-50 winner against Ozark on Wednesday. The game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at University of Missouri-Rolla.
“It’s pretty huge,” Seabaugh said. “As it starts to get to even bigger and better competition, it means more. It’s pretty awesome.”
However, the Bruins maintain that they are trying not to get to far ahead of themselves.
“We are definitely taking it one game at a time,” senior forward Kelsie Shearrer said.
Harry couldn’t agree more.
“We came together and said we had to focus on one game at a time. We can’t win state if we don’t win the game ahead of us.”
Nagel said that the team wants more than a district championship, and though Wednesday’s victory was great, her team needs to stay focused to play in the quarterfinals.