COLUMBIA — Missouri basketball head coach Frank Haith and guard Marcus Denmon were both in the stands at Rock Bridge High School on Friday night. But they were sitting in opposite sides of the stands.
As the Rock Bridge boys basketball team prepared to take on Denmon's alma mater and the defending state champs Hogan Prep, Denmon told Haith, whose son Corey plays for Rock Bridge, that the Bruins would have their hands full against the Hogan Prep Rams, a team from Kansas City. And they did.
That is, until the fourth quarter.
After trailing by about five points for most of the game, the Bruins went on a fourth-quarter shooting spree.
Senior Will Echelmeier hit back-to-back 3-point shots, bringing the team within one point. Sophomore Nick Norton knocked down a 3-pointer off a pass from junior Travis Jorgenson, who knocked down a 3-pointer on the following possession.
But the Rams kept answering. A layup off an offensive rebound. A go-ahead lay-in from the left block. An electrifying up-and-under layup from senior guard Broderick Newbill.
With just over a minute left, the Bruins trailed 68-65. During a time out, Jorgenson yelled to his teammates: "It's up to us."
And it was.
But Norton's next 3-point attempt rimmed out. Jorgenson's three clanged high off the back of the rim. But then senior forward Josh Hayes pulled down a rebound from a crowd of Hogan defenders and kicked it back out to the perimeter.
Jorgenson had the ball again, and he had another shot.
This time it fell. With 15 seconds left, the Rams were unable to break the tie, sending the game into overtime.
And those four overtime minutes belonged to the Bruins.
After a defensive stop, the Bruins controlled the ball for almost two full minutes before Hayes scored down low. On the next possession senior center Austin Ray made a layup off a Rock Bridge steal.
Norton made a breakaway layup two plays later. He pumped his fist before he hit the ground. Head coach Jim Scanlon gave a fist pump from the sideline. Even as the Rams answered with a layup, both Scanlon and Norton knew that nothing was going to go wrong for the Bruins as they pulled away to an 86-79 victory.
"We executed pretty well tonight," Scanlon said. "That makes a difference."
Hayes led the Bruins with 23 points, 15 of them coming in the second half.
"I didn't get tired after we got going," Hayes said. "My offense was coming to me more this game than it has in the past."
Norton, with 18 points, and Jorgenson,with 16, were crucial toward the end of the game, each contributing go-ahead layups to seal the overtime victory.
"It feels really good," Norton said. "Knowing that we lost our last home game, we wanted to get the crowd back in it and get our win streak back up. And we're back at it on Monday."
The Bruins (19-4) play next at +7 p.m. Tuesday at Center High School in Kansas City.