COLUMBIA — The road to the Hickman-Rock Bridge rematch took two different paths Thursday night at Rock Bridge High School.
The Bruins (22-3) allowed only four first-half points against the Jefferson City Jays and won 54-24 in girls basketball.
The Kewpies (24-1) allowed 60 points for just the fourth time this season and won a tight contest 66-60 against Camdenton.
Columbia’s two best squads will meet in Class 5, District 9 championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Hickman 66, Camdenton 60
Camdenton sophomore Bailey Rezabek almost ended Saturday’s anticipated rematch before it had a chance to start.
The 5-foot-8 Laker had 21 second-half points including four 3-pointers. The sophomore led an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter for the Lakers, which put them within two with less than six minutes to go.
“I took some pretty crazy shots that coach probably wasn’t too happy about, but they went in so I kept shooting,” Rezabek said.
Rezabek and teammate Whitney Snow, who finished with 24 points, had the Kewpies on the ropes.
“I think we all were a little bit like, ‘Whoa,’” Hickman junior Emily Miller said.
It was Miller’s 3 with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left that broke the 8-0 run. Camdenton sophomore Sophia Shore then made a layup, and Hickman's lead was 51-48.
Hickman freshman Nyjah White countered with a three-point play and a layup on consecutive possessions. Hickman's lead was pushed back to 56-48.
White finished with 17 points.
“My teammates gave me the good looks,” White said. “I guess I had to step up and play at that level.”
White gained confidence as the game progressed.
While Miller led Hickman with a game-high 24 points, White was vital on both sides of the ball.
“Her explosiveness is difficult to handle,” Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said. “She did a great job not allowing her man to be free.”
After Hickman's lead was cut to 51-48, White’s five points began a stretch where the teams scored a combined 13 points in 91 seconds.
Before that 91-second stretch, the Kewpies seemed to be falling apart.
Camdenton's press forced five fourth-quarter turnovers.
“How many teams do you see unravel and come back to win?” Mirts said. “At some point, it’s a kid breaking through and doing something positive for the team. We did just enough to survive tonight.”
It will be Hickman’s chance to avenge its only loss of the season.
“I wish we could say the tough game is over,” Mirts said to her team in the locker room.
She received a few chuckles in return.
Hickman played Thursday without senior guard Jordan Matthews, who chose not to return to the team after the Sullivan game Feb. 27.
Rock Bridge 54, Jefferson City 24
With 2:10 left in the first half of the Class 5, District 9 semifinals, the Rock Bridge Bruins were tired.
Senior Bri Porter walked to the bench to catch her breath. The rest of the team tried to collect themselves during a trip to the free throw line.
They were winning by more than 20, and their opponent had four points.
Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel was proud of the way her team worked throughout the 54-24 win over Jefferson City.
During the fourth quarter, Nagel was able to play her bench players, something the coach says she is “always trying to do.”
“All 14 players on our team work extremely hard in practice and not all 14 get the minutes they deserve,” Nagel said.
Seniors Kayla Cheadle, Laurie Frew and Mubinah Khaleel were among the bench players afforded extra playing time in the blowout win.
Khaleel played most of the fourth quarter and knows that they might have been some of the last minutes of her career. That doesn’t mean, however, that she won’t be invested in Saturday’s championship game.
“Whether I play or not, I really want to beat (Hickman),” Khaleel said.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.