COLUMBIA — As the Hickman boys basketball team unloaded almost two weeks of pent-up energy on Camdenton in a 69-37 thrashing, they watched.
The Rock Bridge boys basketball team and Missouri coach Frank Haith sat on the same side of the gym, flanking the Kewpies' student section.
No. 1 Hickman vs. No. 2 Rock Bridge
7 p.m. Saturday at Hickman High School
The Bruins, wearing their team jackets and sweatshirts, splayed themselves across several rows. Haith sat on the side of the stands adjacent to Hickman's basket in a dark purple shirt, watching without expression.
They probably had completely opposite feelings towards what happened on the court. Rock Bridge — the Kewpies' opponent for Saturday's district championship game — saw the Lakers get demolished by a team that junior guard Chris Clark described as "antsy" to get the game started. Hickman hadn't played a game since February 12.
"We just got out on the court and we just showed, like, what was in store for all this time," Clark said.
And all that repressed energy, combined with a team that plays at as high a tempo and is as deadly in transition as the Kewpies, led to the Lakers scoring only four field goals, getting smothered by Hickman's full-court press and eventually trailing 26-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter couldn't have helped the Bruins' hopes, either. The Kewpies gave up just six points and relentlessly punched holes in Camdenton's defense. They led 46-15 on halftime, which was around when the Bruins left the gym.
"I couldn't ask for a better start (to the game)," Hickman coach David Johnson said.
Haith also left after the second quarter. But Hickman sophomore guard Jimmy Whitt didn't miss the opportunity to impress the coach.
Whitt scored the team's first basket, hitting a 3-pointer from the right side. He drained another one shortly after, causing Camdenton to call a timeout less than two minutes into the game.
That break did nothing to slow Whitt down. He tormented Camdenton defensively and knocked down shots all over the floor.
His start of the second quarter was more calm, and with about two and a half minutes remaining, Whitt missed an open layup after driving to the basket.
But then he stole the following inbounds pass and dished the ball to Clark for a basket. Whitt hit another layup shortly after.
And though he missed a breakaway dunk, Whitt quickly made another 3-pointer and then got three more points after being fouled on a made shot and nailing the free throw.
Whitt had scored 10 points in about two minutes, running his total to 22 at halftime. He said he'd never had a half like that.
"I just came out, I started hitting it, and they kept feeding the ball and kept telling me to keep shooting, so I did," he said.
Saturday's district championship game between Hickman and Rock Bridge will be the second straight time the teams faced off in the title game and the third game between the teams this year.