COLUMBIA — The players on the Hickman and Rock Bridge girls basketball teams and their fans put aside their differences Wednesday night and replaced their own school colors with a unified one — pink.
Cheerleaders on both teams sported high, tight ponytails with pink bows. Even the scorer's table at Rock Bridge showed its support with pink streamers and pink balloons draped over its edges. Most fans wore pink to show their support for a cause that doesn’t choose sides: to raise awareness about breast cancer.
“It’s a girls shootout against cancer," Hickman Athletic Director Doug Mirts said. “Both schools raised awareness, and our cheerleaders are going to pass the basket at this game to raise money.”
Rock Bridge won the game 52-43, but the night's biggest victory might have gone to the fundraiser.
“Going into this game I was excited," Rock Bridge senior Amaya Williams said. “It’s the pink game. It draws a big crowd because it supports a good cause and we’re playing our rivals.”
The Bruins (16-2), ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 5, jumped out to a 12-9 first-quarter advantage and led 29-22 at the half. Hickman (6-3) didn't give up though and pulled with 36-33 by the end of the third quarter. Both sides got into foul trouble in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins made their free throws to secure the win.
“We’ve got experience down the stretch," Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said. “We’ve had lots of tough games, we don’t get scared when we’re only up by three in the third quarter.”
Before tipoff, Rock Bridge recognized Williams for scoring more than 1,000 points during her basketball career with the Bruins.
“We didn’t play our best,” said Williams, who led Rock Bridge with 13 points on Wednesday night. “We pride ourselves on defense and lacked it tonight, but we made do with what we had.”
Nagel agreed and noted the Bruins have been making some adjustments.
“We’ve changed our offense,” Nagel said. “We’ve become a more fast-breaking team and we’re quicker defensively. We weren’t as sharp as we should have been tonight, but overall we were quick.”
Aqua Corpening led the Kewpies with 16 points and Ashley Davis scored 13.
Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said the Kewpies need to pay closer attention to offensive rebounds and defensive pressure.
“We’re little, and we need to generate points off of free throws,” Mirts said. "We always set goals and set new goals. First we have to prepare for districts, the goal is then to win. We’re preparing for that.”
Hickman will play Friday at Westport and Rock Bridge will face Liberty on Saturday at home.