COLUMBIA — Jefferson City girls basketball coach Shane Meyer knew his team needed to play the perfect game to have any chance of shocking Rock Bridge.
Instead, it was the Bruins who were flawless, using a 33-o run during the opening 14 minutes of Thursday's Class 5, District 9 semifinal at Hickman.
Rock Bridge (20-5) vs. Hickman (20-3)
in Class 5, District 9 championship game
WHEN: 5 p.m.
WHERE: Hickman High School
Rock Bridge, ranked No. 2 in the state at 20-5, played its entire roster before the first half came to a close on its way to a 63-11 victory over the Jays (3-24).
The Bruins forced Meyer to use a timeout after three 3-pointers in the opening minute, and the rout was on from there. The Bruins hit seven 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and led 27-0 when the first quarter came to a close.
"We were kind of hoping they would have an off shooting night," said Meyer, who elected to play a zone defense against the Bruins at the start of the game. "But they hit seven of eight 3-pointers when we needed them to hit maybe one or two. You have to pick your poison with them, and we picked wrong tonight."
The matchup, which had been scheduled for Tuesday night, was pushed back until Thursday because of the recent snowstorm.
There were no signs of a letdown as the Bruins huddled together, jumping up and down before the opening tip, yelling encouraging words and flashing smiles to their many supporters in the crowd.
And there were no indications the Bruins were looking ahead to a potential rematch against rival Hickman on Saturday night.
"We were really hyper at the beginning of the game," Bruins' junior Kayla Cheadle said. "We were really anxious and ready to play."
Rock Bridge stuck around to watch Thursday's late semifinal game and saw Hickman beat Camdenton 67-48, pitting the rivals against each other in a 5 p.m. championship game Saturday.
"Defense makes our offense happen," said Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel after her team forced 23 turnovers in the win.
Kayla Cheadle wasn't shy about wanting a rematch with the Kewpies.
"I honestly think I'd rather play Hickman on Saturday," said Cheadle with a grin, when asked who she'd rather play. "I think it would be a great game, a great crowd, a ton of energy, so I can't wait."
"I feel like since it's a winner-goes-on game and it's a rivalry, it pushes us more to play our hearts out to try and win."
Meyer said he would be surprised if the Bruins, last season's state champions, didn't make it back to Mizzou Arena and the Class 5 state semifinals in a couple of weeks.
"Rock Bridge is definitely one of the favorites," he said, "Not only just to make it back to Columbia, but to make a run at a state championship."