COLUMBIA — Seniors Kelsey Eckenrode, Katherine Harry and Rachel Rutter have been part of the Rock Bridge girls basketball program for the past four years, creating friendships they say will last a lifetime.
“We can’t get sick of each other,” Eckenrode said, laughing.
Rock Bridge (23-4)
vs. Waynesville (17-10)
What: Class 5 sectional
When: 7:45 p.m.
Where: Union High School
They joined the program for the 2005-2006 season, the same season that Jill Nagel became head girls basketball coach at Rock Bridge. The senior teammates say they have seen a significant change in the program since then, one they are definitely proud of.
“Rock Bridge basketball has gone from a no-name to a state power house,” Rutter said.
“Yeah, people definitely know who we are now,” Eckenrode chimed in
The Bruins (23-4), last year's state champions, continue their title defense at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in a Class 5 sectional game against Waynesville (17-10) at Union High School.
Although all three players have helped to shape the program in some way, they all give complete credit to Nagel.
“We have so much faith in her and respect for her,” Rutter said. “I don’t doubt anything she says.”
“She’s taught us so much,” Harry said. “I couldn’t thank her enough.”
They say they spend about 15-20 hours a week doing basketball related activities, and the rest of the time being full time students. However, they don’t let that stop them from spending time together outside of their busy schedules.
“I think we might even hang out a little too much,” Eckenrode said, laughing.
However, Harry said spending that much time together works to their advantage on the court.
“When you spend time together off the court, it carries back onto the court,” Harry said. “We know that we will have each other’s backs.”
They spend so much time together that they were easily able to classify each other. They all admit that Rutter is the outgoing one of the bunch, while they give Eckenrode credit for being a “smarty pants” and call Harry the shy one.
The players all have different plans after graduation, though.
Harry will travel to Illinois to play Division I basketball at DePaul. Rutter will attend William Woods in Fulton, where she will be a member of the soccer team. Eckenrode says she is working on deciding on one of four colleges.
Thinking about an end to their high school careers is something the group says might help them come out victorious.
“You want to think it’s your last game so that you’ll play your best,” Rutter said. “You can’t say that there is always next year, because for us there is no next year. We don’t want to just be satisfied with winning state our junior year.”