COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge girls basketball team has more than a solid winning streak. It also has a habit of completely dominating its opponents.
On Wednesday the Bruins beat Waynesville 64-18 in the first round of the Class 5 state tournament. But the Bruins are familiar with such large winning margins.
Rock Bridge (23-3) vs. Ozark (25-4)
WHEN: Noon, Saturday
WHERE: Hammons Center, Springfield
The Bruins (23-3) have a 15-game winning streak and while scoring just fewer than 60 points per game have allowed their opponents only about 36 this season.
The immediate guess for why Rock Bridge continues to win by so much is their clear height advantage. If 6-foot Lindsey and Sophie Cunningham aren't racking up the steals with their relentless half-court trap, then 6-foot-4-inch Cierra Porter and 6-foot-1-inch Audrey Holt are filling the paint, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds.
Nine of the 13 players on the Bruins’ roster are listed at or above 5 feet, 11 inches. Waynesville, their most recent victim, did not have a player listed above 5 feet 10 inches tall.
Coach Jill Nagel says the biggest reason for averaging a 23-point margin of victory is just a product of having a very special group of players this season. It's not something to expect on a yearly basis or on Saturday against Ozark High School.
“I think it’s time for us to really get a good challenge,” senior Carmen Boessen said.
Like the Bruins, Ozark scores a lot, averaging 53 points per game. Ozark (25-4) is on a 19-game win streak, and Nagel sees a lot of similarities between the two teams.
The Bruins can claim the height advantage again. Ozark lists three players at or above 5 feet 11 inches. When the two teams met in December, Rock Bridge won, but the 50-45 overtime finish was the the closest game of the season for either team.
Of further concerni to Nagel is the location. The Bruins will play Ozark at the Hammons Center in Springfield, which is just a 16-mile drive from Ozark High School but 166 miles away for the Bruins.
"That’s going to be a tough game,” Nagel said on Wednesday. “We’re playing in their backyard, so it’s basically a home game for them. But we’re used to that. We’re used to going on the road.”
Twenty- one of the Bruins' 26 games this year have been away from home.
The Bruins play the Ozark Tigers at noon Saturday at the Hammons Center in Springfield for the state quarterfinals.