UNION — When Skylar Tolson’s 3-point attempt rattled around the rim then rolled out, that was the end for the Rock Bridge boys basketball team.
Tolson collapsed on the floor and stared at the black ceiling as Fort Zumwalt South’s Josh McCoy was fouled with 1.6 seconds left.
“It was a good look for us,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “Sometimes it’s not meant to be.”
It was the end officially when McCoy sank his final two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 42-37 victory Wednesday in Class 5 sectional play at Union High School. It was the third consecutive sectional loss for the Bruins (24-3), the second in a row to the Bulldogs (25-3). Another ending that left Scanlon walking across the court numb, showing no emotion.
“McCoy just took it from us,” Scanlon said.
McCoy scored 15 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter where the Bulldogs overcame a 24-17 deficit.
“We told our kids we’re going to play conservatively until the final eight to 10 minutes then make the game crazy,” Fort Zumwalt South coach Bill Friedel said.
For three quarters, McCoy didn’t influence the game as Rock Bridge seniors John Worley and Mike Petrik and sophomore Ricky Kreklow shadowed him. When the Bruins huddled, one player was missing while Kreklow stayed by McCoy even during the break. That was until McCoy decided the Bruins weren’t going to ruin his 18th birthday.
“We knew to look for him and to keep denying him the ball,” Petrik said. “He’s just a great player who took over.”
The loss means no practice at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. No dissecting video of the next opponent. It appeared that the Bruins had planned for the Bulldogs perfectly, leading the entire game until a 3-pointer by McCoy with 3:06 left gave the Bulldogs a 36-33 lead. McCoy didn’t score his first point until there were six minutes left in the third quarter.
“I just hit some crazy shots tonight,” McCoy said. “On that one I was lucky it went in.”
During Monday’s practice, the Bruins focused on McCoy. Scanlon preached that McCoy does not want to lose in the fourth quarter. McCoy scored 17 of the Bulldogs 19 points in the fourth quarter in their district win and he showed that same fire in Wednesday’s game.
“We started playing faster and he got his points on the steals,” Friedel said. “Sometimes that’s all you need is for a good player to get going.”
After McCoy missed a 3-pointer to end the first half with no points, the frustration showed as he walked to the locker room. But when halftime ended, McCoy walked out of the locker room like he knew who was in charge.
“I just have that fire in the fourth,” McCoy said.