JEFFERSON CITY — The slogan for this season's Rock Bridge girls basketball team is “A line in the sand." The players are told to approach every drill in practice with the phrase in mind, to be completely committed to everything they do on the basketball court.
“You either do it right or you don’t, you either go hard or you don’t, and that’s the approach we’ve kind of taken this year,” Bruins coach Jill Nagel said.
On Tuesday night at Helias High School in Jefferson City, it was clear that every Rock Bridge player buys into Nagel’s philosophy. The Bruins defeated Lee’s Summit West 67-52 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational.
Rock Bridge junior Lindsey Cunningham scored a season-high 23 points, three Bruins players scored nine points or more and Rock Bridge snapped a two-game losing streak. The Bruins led by as many as 21 in the third quarter and withheld a late charge by the Titans to improve to 5-3 on the season.
Rock Bridge, the tournament champion in 2008 and runner-up in 2009, moves on to play host Helias at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s championship game. It will be the first time that Rock Bridge has played Helias this season.
As clear as the team-first mentality was on the court, it was just as clear off it. After every timeout, the team huddled together before shouting “team,” and whenever a player was substituted out of play, the entire bench stood up and congratulated the player.
“We believe strongly in our team chemistry,” Nagel said. “ . . . everyone standing up for you and giving you a high five when you come out, you feel better about yourself, and that’s what this team is all about.”