Rock Bridge boys basketball hangs on to beat Battle

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 11:20 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — It was the exact same spot.

Battle High School's Daviante Ostrander scored the first points of the game on a deep 3 from the left side of the court. Thirty minutes later, Battle High School had fought back from a 20-point deficit against Rock Bridge High School and cut the lead to six points with two minutes remaining in the game.

But that was as close as the Spartans would get.

Rock Bridge's Ryan Kreklow slid his silver and green Under Armour sneakers over the same piece of hardwood Ostrander had scored from to open a game and nailed a 3-pointer. The Bruins were up nine. Kreklow's dagger drained the energy out of the gym.

Rock Bridge (20-3) beat Battle (5-18) 87-76 in the Spartans' last game of the regular season. 

"Krelow's bomb was kind of a back breaker," Battle coach John Burns said.

Rock Bridge was led in scoring by junior Spencer Linder with 19 points. Four other Rock Bridge players were in double digits.

Comments were not available from Rock Bridge players and coaches. They remained in the locker room 30 minutes after the end of the game.

The game was a microcosm of Battle's first season. Ostrander put in a big game, but a few minutes of shaky play and an early deficit proved too much for the Spartans to overcome.

Ostrander unleashed a relentless volley of 3s and scored a team-high 30 points. Sophomore Trey Smith also chipped in 24 for the Spartans. No one else on the team was in double digits.

"When he's out, it would completely change the way we play," Burns said about Ostrander. "It would be a totally different team."

The second quarter hurt Battle. Rock Bridge built a 20-point lead over the period and took a 19-point lead into halftime. Burns said this type of defensive lapse has been a consistent problem for his young team.

"I think we went through a stretch in the second quarter where we didn't do what we were supposed to do," Burns said. "Four turns into eight pretty quick on the runs. It's not that they're playing bad so much as we aren't finishing plays."

Battle never gave up. The Spartans fought with determination and mounted a comeback, as they have all year. But in the end, it wasn't enough. As many of their comeback attempts have come up short this year.

Battle junior Galeel Lee said his spirits aren't dampened at the conclusion of a rough first season.

"I feel pretty good knowing that everybody is coming back next year," he said. "We just want five guys out there who believe we can win. And tonight, we had five guys, but we just couldn't pull it out."

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.

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