COLUMBIA — The last time Ryan Kreklow hit a three, the bleachers shook. That three came from the top of the key at Hickman High School. It gave the Rock Bridge Bruins their first lead of the game against their rivals.
Things weren’t the same on Friday night when the No. 5 Rock Bridge Bruins (15-3) took on the visiting Raytown South Cardinals (7-10). On Friday, there was only light applause when Kreklow calmly drained a dribble-up three.
A select few Bruins' fans battled the elements to support their home team after going the entire week without school. One section of the bleachers was full of standing students, save for the top two rows. Other fans spread sparsely throughout the gray and green plastic bleachers. They weren’t standing.
Rock Bridge didn't let the lackadaisical crowd slow them down, grabbing a 73-61 win over the Cardinals. Kreklow led the Bruins with 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Rock Bridge senior Jackson Dubinski, who scored 17 points, said that the five consecutive snow days had an effect on the student section.
“We had a good student section tonight,” Dubinski said and paused, “but not as good as normal.”
Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said the layoff may have affected his team as well as the fans.
“I was worried cause we missed two days of practice, but we looked OK,” Scanlon said.
Things started out slow.
Rock Bridge couldn’t pull away in the first half. The Bruins and Cardinals traded baskets back and forth. Rock Bridge led by three points at the half.
“I was really proud of our guys. I thought we played really good, especially in the second half,” Scanlon said.
Two minutes into the third quarter, Rock Bridge pushed the lead to 10 points. Raytown South was never able to bring the difference back to single digits.
Kreklow and Dubinski led the charge that put the Bruins up by 15 points at the end of the third quarter.
“He played one of his best games,” Dubinski said about Kreklow. “Rebounding, running the floor, passing it up, shooting it. He’s a good player. He’s fun to play with.”
Kreklow did a little bit of everything, and he paid for it, too. The junior guard hobbled out of the Rock Bridge training room with ice on both of his knees after the game.
“I thought Ryan played really good. I thought he was really unselfish,” Scanlon said. “He did a little bit of everything.”
Scanlon pointed to his team’s ability to stop the Cardinals in transition and grab rebounds as the reason the Bruins were able to pull away toward the end of the game.
At the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the crowd began to trickle away. Rock Bridge led by as many as 23 points.
“We just kept playing pretty good basketball and increased our lead,” Scanlon said. “I thought it would go down to the wire.”
Supervising editor is Wade Livingston