Bruins inability to do the little things costs them big

The Rock Bridge boy's basketball team looked poised to head to their first Class 5 state championship game in school history. But turnovers, foul trouble and problems rebounding came back to haunt the Bruins.
Friday, March 13, 2009 | 8:33 p.m. CDT; updated 10:03 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 13, 2009
Chaminade's Brandon Hannah, left, trips Briton Rudd of Rock Bridge during the Class 5 state semifinal game at Mizzou Arena on Friday.

COLUMBIA — Jim Scanlon has been preaching to his team about doing the little things right all season.

Unfortunately for the Bruins (27-3) and their coach, the little things they did wrong were a key in their 66-65 Class 5 state semifinal loss to the Chaminade Red Devils (26-4).

On paper, it appears that Rock Bridge played the better game. They outrebounded the Red Devils 33-27 and had a field-goal percentage of 60 percent compared to Chaminade’s 39.7 percent. This game, if anything, proves that the little things do matter.

Chaminade outshot Rock Bridge 63-40. They had seven turnovers compared to the Bruins abysmal 20, including five in the fourth period.  And the Red Devils had 12 steals, while the Bruins only had three.

The Bruins were outrebounded 18-10 on the offensive end. Two consecutive offensive rebounds led to the game tying three-point shot by Chaminade's Luke Bumgarner.

Chaminade won the coin toss, which technically made them the home team for the game. But playing in front of their hometown crowd, it was apparent that the Bruins would have a home-court advantage, but the Chaminade crowd was rowdier from the start.

During their fourth quarter come back, the Red Devils faithful chanted “It’s not over,” and the message appeared to get into the heads of both teams’ players.

Bruins’ players Justin Miller and Jordan Dressler were both dominant on the court, but the problem was keeping them on the court. Both players fell into foul trouble and missed significant time.

Miller scored 15 points, but only played 15 minutes. All 15 points were scored in the second half. Coach Scanlon said Miller’s absence was huge in the second period, where the Bruins were outscored 20-7.

When Miller returned in the third period, he was unstoppable, scoring seven of the Bruins first nine points in the quarter and going 8-8 and the free-throw line. Scanlon said it would have been great to have Miller on the court for more of the game.

“It hurt us,” Scanlon said. “He got the early fouls. It really hurt us. That’s our starting point guard, that’s a pretty important position. We were without a point guard for probably over half of the first half.”

Dressler had eight first period points, but only finished with 16 for the game. Foul trouble forced Dressler to the bench during key situations. Chaminade coach Kelvin Lee said he though the Bruins should have played Dressler more, regardless of the number of fouls.

“I don’t think he touched the ball as much,” Lee said. “I think they went away from him a few times. If it were me, I’d probably have kept going to him, because he was very effective .We had no answers for him for a while.”

Bruins guard Ricky Kreklow, who was nursing a right foot injury, did not look like his normal self. While he still led the team in minutes played, he was held to only seven points and turned the ball over seven times, including a crucial turnover in the final two minutes of the game.

Ultimately for the Bruins, the loss was because of defense: poor defense by the Bruins and solid defense and unstoppable three-point shooting by the Red Devils. Chaminade made eight three-point shots in the game, including six in the final period.

“They had the right players shooting the ball, Scanlon said. “They had a post player step out and hit back-to-back threes. That was probably the crucial parts of the game. We just got hit by an avalanche of threes. Every shot they hit, they needed.”

The Bruins led by as much as 21 in the game and appeared headed for the Rock Bridge boys’ first championship final game ever, but the best they can do is claim third place.

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