COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge boys basketball team is striving for only one thing this season: a state championship. Anything less will fail to fill the void left after last season’s run at the title was spoiled by Chaminade in the Final Four. At Thursday night's annual Green and Gold scrimmage the Bruins said they have their sights set on March again.
“That upset from Chaminade just hurt everybody,” senior forward Logan Parks said. “We don’t want to go out the same way we did before. We want to bring a title here to the hometown, Columbia. We’ve been hitting the ground running and working our butts off.”
After only nine practices, Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said he isn’t thinking too far ahead. He said he thinks his team has a lot of work to do before his team can think about challenging for the state title.
Rock Bridge graduated four defensive standouts. Scanlon and senior guard Rick Kreklow estimate the departed players made up around 90 percent of the team’s rebounding last season.
“Defense initially has to improve a lot,” Scanlon said. “We were pretty good in defense the last few years, and our rebounding. We have some size, but we haven’t had guys do it on a consistent basis yet.”
Scanlon is looking at Parks and fellow senior forwards Charlie Henderson and Trey Millard to pick up the slack. Parks measures 6 feet, 7 inches, and is putting it on himself to set the example.
“I’m going to keep battling out there,” Parks said. “I’m still growing and still getting pretty big in the weight room. I’m going put a hustle in and do whatever I can to get our rebounds on the board. I’m going to make sure we get up there.”
Kreklow said he thinks it is all part of the mentality of the team to improve on its rebounding. Nine Bruins are taller than 6-4, so size definitely isn’t the issue.
“We’re definitely capable of it (rebounding),” Kreklow said. “Overall, we’re a pretty sizable lineup, but it is just the mentality we need to get to back and crash the board on offense and defense.”
In addition to rebounds, Scanlon is also looking for a stopper, and Millard said he plans to fill that role, something his brother did when he played for the Bruins. At 6-3, 245 pounds, Millard is big enough to take on the big guys, but Kreklow said he thinks Millard’s speed and quickness is going to take opponents by surprise. Millard was also the running back for the Bruins' football team.
“I don’t really score that much,” Millard said, “But it’s definitely an honor and kind of a challenge to get up there and guard the best guys in the state. “
Scanlon is also looking for leadership from his seniors and is challenging the new class to take control.
“The seniors this year, we’ve really embraced it (the leadership role),” Kreklow said. “It all starts in practice. We all try to go as hard as we can to set a good example in practice constantly. Just pushing ourselves and pushing the players around us, too, to get as good as we can.”
The Bruins get to put their work to the test when they kick off their season at 7 p.m., Dec. 5 when they take on Moberly in the Norm Stewart Classic hosted by Columbia College.