COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge girls basketball coach Jill Nagel wants a repeat, and she's not talking about another state title.
At least, not yet.
Rock Bridge (22-5) vs. Nixa (24-5)
WHERE: Drury University in Springfield
WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Saturday
She meant the 60-38 win her No. 2 Bruins notched over the Nixa Eagles, their opponent in Saturday's Class 5 state quarterfinal on Jan. 12.
"I would love to see the same thing happen this time," Nagel said with a laugh. "It would make it a lot easier for us."
With senior star Hannah Dressler out for the year with a knee injury and playing an Eagles team on the rise, Nagel doesn't think the rematch will be as comfortable for the Bruins.
"Hannah scored 10 points in that game in January," Nagel said, "and we've had to adjust to life without her. Nixa's very sound fundamentally, and they're going to force us to play a very strong game to move on."
Saturday's game at Drury University in Springfield is all that stands between the Bruins and another trip to Mizzou Arena for the "Show-Me Showdown."
After dispatching Waynesville on Wednesday, 65-32, Rock Bridge is ready for a closer game against Nixa.
"I don't think this will be like (Waynesville)," Nagel said. "We're preparing for a game that's on the line in the fourth quarter and the girls know they have to be sharp the whole way."
Like most teams that face off with the Bruins towering lineup, the Eagles (24-5) will be at a clear disadvantage in the post with just one player over 6-foot tall. Nixa relies upon a senior-laden lineup that includes a bevy of 3-point shooters, and they're not afraid to shoot from anywhere, according to Nagel. She has warned her team about the Eagles' reliance on long-range shooting.
"They're a very, very good 3-point shooting team," Nagel said. "When they get going, they're really hard to slow down from the perimeter. They're one of the better shooting teams we've seen."
Nixa demonstrated that in their opening playoff game against rival Ozark, rallying from 17 points down late in the fourth quarter behind a slew of threes and using a 20-1 run to notch a two-point victory.
"We have to start the game well and be alert on defense," Rock Bridge junior Chayla Cheadle said. "If we start better, I think we can get back (to the state semifinals)."
Nagel believes that the Bruins' experience in high-pressure matchups will help them overcome any potential nerves.
"We've been there before," she said. "This is why we schedule the way we do and play great teams. We're used to long trips and big games and that should help us be prepared for tomorrow."