COLUMBIA — They say defense wins championships. For Rock Bridge, offensive strength has stepped up in its place.
The Rock Bridge boys basketball team is a powerful competitor, but coach Jim Scanlon and returning seniors Jordan Dressler and Skylar Tolson said the team struggles with defense in high-pressure situations.
Rock Bridge (24-2) at Hickman (15-9)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Where: Holt High School in Wentzville
“We’ve had a lot of offensive options,” Dressler said. “But we’re definitely not as good defensively.”
While the Bruins’ offensive leaders Dressler, Tolson and junior Ricky Kreklow returned this season, Scanlon said the team graduated two significant defensive “stoppers” last spring and has yet to find players to fill those roles.
“The defensive mentality is not quite there like it used to be,” Scanlon said. “We’re going to go as far as our defense takes us.”
Rock Bridge (24-2) faces rival Hickman (15-9) in the Class 5, District 9 championship Friday night at Holt High School in Wentzville. The teams played each other twice during the regular season, and Rock Bridge winning both games. The Bruins say the teams’ knowledge of one another will not be a factor.
Scanlon said he thinks playing against the Kewpies on neutral territory will reduce the excitement and intensity found in Columbia.
“It’s just a district championship against another team,” commented Scanlon on Hickman. “They’re our opponent, and if we want to win, we have to go through them.”
Dressler agrees with his coach.
“Whoever the opponent is, you just have to come out and play as hard as you can, ” he said.
The Bruins say they recognize strength in Hickman’s offensive intelligence and defensive pressure, but they believe a move forward into sectional play is attainable if the team continues to make smart decisions and play consistently.
"If you're around a group of guys that you can work hard with every day, the unity is going to be there," Tolson said.