COLUMBIA — The game was still up for grabs late in the fourth quarter. But two plays sealed a 46-39 win over top-ranked Incarnate Word for Rock Bridge.
Freshman Sophie Cunningham impressed the crowd with a reverse layup between three defenders, and her senior sister Lindsey jumped in front of a pass for a vital steal when the game was tied with just under a minute remaining.
“[The Cunninghams] are great players," Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said. “I thought we grew up a lot in the fourth quarter tonight.”
The first annual Rock Bridge Girls Basketball Tournament began with a tough matchup for the Bruins, who were able to continue a long-standing home game winning streak.
The last time the Bruins lost at home, this game’s leading scorer, Sophie Cunningham, was just a sixth grader. Now, Cunningham and her older sister Lindsey are some of the biggest reasons the home winning streak is still alive.
“We haven’t talked about [the streak],” Nagel said. “I think maybe once we mentioned it. But we don’t talk about it a lot. I don’t even know the number."
The number is 21, and it spans nearly three years.
“I remember the last (loss). It was Jan. 31, 2009,” Nagel said.
The Bruins went to the locker room trailing 22-18 at halftime. But Rock Bridge came out with a different mindset and outscored the Red Knights 17-6 in the third quarter.
“We were really hesitant in the first half,” Nagel said. “We got refocused at halftime and reminded ourselves of what we could do and had a great third quarter. We’re extremely proud of the kids for the way they pulled it together the second half.”
The Bruins have one more home game for the tournament against Shawnee Mission South on Saturday. If Rock Bridge survives that game, they will have only the rivaled Hickman Kewpies in their way of extending the streak to a full three years.