COLUMBIA – The Rock Bridge girls basketball team’s game against Blue Springs ended in the dramatic fashion expected of a match between the 2008 state champion and 2009 runner-up. The intensity reached its peak with less than a minute left in the game.
With just fewer than 30 seconds left, Rock Bridge, the 2008 champs, led 40-34. Senior point guard Amaya Williams fouled Blue Springs’ Tyra Bickman who made two free throws. The ball was deflected out of bounds on the inbounds play and possession went to Blue Springs, which lost to Nixa in last season's title game. Cee Cee Burris dribbled inside to pull Blue Springs within 40-38 with 12 seconds left.
The Rock Bridge girls basketball team plays Lafayette at 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 at Rock Bridge.
In the most controversial call of the game, Rock Bridge inbounded the ball to Carmen Boessen and when three defenders put pressure on her, the ball was again pushed out of bounds off of her leg. Two referees disagreed on the play. The nearest called it out of bounds on Boessen and another called a foul on a Blue Springs defender. They conferred and decided to give the ball to Blue Springs.
Rock Bridge called a timeout to regain composure.
“At that point we just reminded everyone that, you know, that plays over, there’s nothing in the world we can do to change that play,” Bruins coach Jill Nagel said. “So, we forget about it and we think to the next play, and so that’s what we focused on, what we need to do now. So, we reset ourselves defensively.”
With 10 seconds left, Boessen deflected a Blue Springs pass and Rock Bridge's Lindsey Cunningham grabbed the ball, was fouled and made both her free throws to give the Bruins a 42-38 victory Saturday at the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.
Williams agreed that team’s focus gave it the advantage.
“We don’t like to blame anything on the refs,” she said. “They had some controversial calls at the end of the game, and they (the Wildcats) took advantage of it. But I think we held our composure really well, and that’s what won us the game. We just said, ‘stay positive, keep our heads, everyone has to be on the same page on defense and talk, and we’re going to get the ball back.’”
Williams led Rock Bridge (3-1) with 12 points, hitting 5-of-7 free throws, while Hannah Dressler led the Bruins' defensive efforts with seven rebounds.
Nagel also attributed the win to her team’s composure. “Our kids are very disciplined most of the time,” she said. "We had a couple things that didn’t go our way down the stretch, but the kids kept their heads, kept their cool."