ROLLA – The Rock Bridge boys basketball team came from behind and held off Branson in the final seconds of Saturday night's Class 5 quarterfinal. The win advances the Bruins to the state final four.
Branson, on two electrifying plays by Mike Weibe, had tied the game with 44.6 seconds left to play when Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon called a timeout to calm down his team.
“All I said was the game is in our hands,” Scanlon said. “They can’t win without the ball.”
Rock Bridge managed the final seconds and grabbed a 56-53 win.
The Bruins perseverance led them to victory.
Rock Bridge started the game down 0-4. They were out rebounded and committed too many turnovers. For a time, Branson’s experience looked like it was going to overcome the athleticism and size of the Bruins — the Pirates had seven senior players on the team as opposed to four for the Bruins.
Making matters worse, Rock Bridge’s top player—Jordan Dressler—started off the game slowly: he was held scoreless in the first quarter.
Enter Rock Bridge senior forward Briton Rudd.
As the game was about to break open, Senior Rock Bridge guard Skylar Tolson stole the ball and started a fast break. The ball ended up in Rudd’s hands at the other end of the court and he emphatically tomahawk dunked.
“It was a big momentum shift,” Dressler said. “That got the crowd involved.”
From then on, Rudd submitted a virtuoso performance to keep Rock Bridge in the game. He scored 15 points, mostly on fast-break opportunities and cuts inside the lane. He also had a block and several rebounds, which cemented Rock Bridge’s low post presence on the defensive glass in the second half.
“I just try to do what I can,” Rudd said.
Even with Rudd playing well, the Bruins still trailed at half 29-25. Dressler became more involved in the second half, scoring a game leading 19 points settling the Bruins down. They took the lead in the third period, extending it to four points when Tolson hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer. They didn’t trail for the rest of the game.
The win over Branson is sweet for the Bruins who suffered early losses the past two years in the tournament.
“This goes out for the last three years,” Rudd said. “Every single win is for them, the past players.”
The Bruins advance to the final four. Their game is at 3:20 p.m. on Friday at Mizzou Arena where they will play the winner of the Chaminade/Parkway West game.