COLUMBIA -- Lacking a conference affiliation, Rock Bridge’s boys basketball team is at the will of other league-less opponents when it comes to rounding out the regular season schedule.
To accomplish this, Jim Scanlon’s squad sometimes faces vastly inferior competition that they otherwise wouldn’t.
Such was the case this week, as overmatched foes Springfield Central and ACC Prep (Kansas City) -- two young, small teams -- paid visits to Rock Bridge’s gymnasium.
The Bruins followed Tuesday’s 94-39 victory against the Bulldogs with a 92-30 drubbing of the Knights Friday night at Rock Bridge.
After maneuvering through an onerous early-season schedule, Scanlon said this past week was a “breath of fresh air” for his team.
These blowouts have allowed the contingent of Bruins that don’t hear their names called during pregame ceremonies an opportunity to perform in a game situation while Scanlon’s starters are spared some wear and tear on their body late in the regular season.
And they’ve taken advantage of the extended minutes.
Junior guard Zach Carroll led all scorers Tuesday night with 26 points, a new career-high. Carroll added 10 more against the Knights. Sophomore guard Alex Ofodile chipped in a game-high 18 points Friday to go along with a strong showing on defense.
“He was doing it all, he had a great game,” Carroll said of Ofodile.
The veteran coach highlighted the performances of Carroll and Ofodile in particular during the team’s past two games, which he referred to as “audition time” for the Bruins’ reserves.
Forwards Arris Pardaolos and Leo Terzopoulus dominated the much smaller competition just like the starters they came in for, grabbing numerous offensive rebounds in addition to crashing the defensive glass as Scanlon emptied his bench for the second consecutive game Friday.
Given how hard his reserves work on a daily basis in practice, Scanlon was happy to reward them for their high-energy efforts with game action.
Those laborious practice showings sometimes involve 5-on-5 scrimmages with the starting unit taking on the reserves. Coach and players alike describe these sessions as highly competitive and extremely beneficial to the team.
“We have a really good competition for playing time right now because everybody works hard and everybody wants to win,” Carroll said.
Roughly 30 percent of time the bench prevails against the starting five.
“Their hard work makes starters work harder,” star guard Nick Norton said.
And while they have spent more time next to Scanlon on the sidelines than usual, the starters relish seeing their less-heralded teammates rewarded on game day for their hard work in practice.
“Knowing they put so much time in just like us, it’s good to see some smiles on their faces after (the game),” Norton said.
Looking ahead to next week, with Rock Bridge traveling to DeSmet Tuesday and then hosting Rockhurst Friday, the Bruins know they will be facing much stiffer competition. They believe everyone getting a chance to contribute this past week has positioned them well moving forward, though.
“It’s a real confidence builder for all of us,” Norton said. “Heading into these games next week, two tough ones, they’ve given us (starters) great confidence knowing we have a bench behind us.”