COLUMBIA — Thirty minutes after their season-ending 66-62 defeat Saturday night to Hickman, teary-eyed, dejected Rock Bridge players began to file out of their locker room down the hall from Hickman’s gymnasium.
Following the team’s third loss in as many tries this season against the rival Kewpies, the Bruins’ frustration with both the outcome and the officiating was evident.
“Everything goes against us, that’s kind of the way it’s gone this year,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “Give them credit, I thought it was a hell of a game, both teams played their butts off, it just seems like we can’t grab a break.
“Every call goes against us, it’s amazing.”
With Rock Bridge trailing 61-59 with 40 seconds remaining, sophomore Ryan Kreklow missed the third of three free throws. On Hickman’s ensuing possession, the Bruins failed to box out on the second of two free throws, granting the Kewpies a mulligan.
Hickman capitalized, making both free throws after another Bruin foul, taking a five-point lead and cementing the victory.
“There were a lot of times I thought we had them,” junior guard Jackson Dubinsky said. “Even when we were down I felt like we were right there but we made a couple of bonehead plays, we missed some easy block outs on free throws and there were a couple questionable calls. But no excuses. We played hard, they played hard and props to them for getting the win.”
Scanlon wouldn’t identify any specific problems with officiating Saturday night, but said he would watch film of the game afterwards to assess it. The veteran coach added that he also felt slighted by the officiating following his team’s triple-overtime loss to Hickman in their last meeting.
Playing without star guard Nick Norton, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week, the Bruins were shorthanded against one of the state’s highest ranked teams.
But led by Dubinsky, who took it upon himself to assume Norton’s leadership role with the team and led all scorers with 25 points, the game was tied 29-29 at halftime, and Rock Bridge was within two points in the final minutes.
“It’s tough to lose that game but it’s even more tough to lose to your crosstown rival, especially three times,” Dubinsky said. “I just feel like we’re not supposed to lose to them.”
Gripes with officiating aside, the Bruins walked off Hickman’s court proud of their effort.
“You go with what you got,” Scanlon said. “We could’ve won the game. We were fine with who we had, we just didn’t make the plays (down the stretch) and we don’t get any breaks.
“The last game’s killer. We’ll get over it later on, but your season’s over. You’ve spent four or five months with these guys, you feel bad for them.”