COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge Bruins are champions again after defeating the Lee's Summit North Broncos 62-45 Saturday.
By the time the Broncos scored their first point — which came on a free throw — in the Show Me Showdown final at Mizzou Arena, a Rock Bridge win seemed inevitable.
The free throw by Broncos senior Erica Nelson came with 3:49 remaining in the first quarter and cut the Bruins lead to 10-1.
“I thought our defense was incredible,” Bruins senior Chayla Cheadle said. “They (the Broncos) couldn’t compete.”
The Bruins (27-3) remained in complete control throughout the game.
“Obviously, we’re very proud of our team; it’s extremely tough to win a state championship,” Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said. “What these kids have put together for three years now is just unbelievably special.”
The victory is the Bruins' third consecutive state title, placing the team among six schools in Missouri history that have won three times in a row. The feat hasn’t been accomplished since St. Joseph’s Academy pulled it off from 1991-1994.
“We said all year, ‘Take it one game at a time,’ but I really, really wanted this,” senior Audrey Holt said.
Nagel was happy to send her seven seniors out on a win, but she seemed especially proud about sending Abrianna Porter, known as "Bri," out with a medal around her neck. Due to troubles with the ACL in her right knee, Porter had not been able to participate in the past two state tournaments.
While holding back tears, Nagel said that Porter had gone through “more than any kid should have to go through.”
Bri Porter’s sister, junior forward Cierra Porter, was quite happy to have her sister next to her for this win.
“We’re playing in a state championship… TOGETHER @abriannaporter,” she tweeted Saturday morning.
Bri Porter has committed to play basketball for the Missouri Tigers next season.
Twins Chayla and Kayla Cheadle will head to the University of Kansas, the former for basketball and the latter for volleyball.
Holt is on her way to Missouri State to compete on the hardcourt, and Laurie Frew will be heading to Central Missouri to play soccer.
Mubinah Khaleel will attend Missouri but will not compete athletically. Elexis Ferguson has not decided on a college yet.
While not all these seniors saw big minutes on the court this season, Nagel believes that their talent and work ethic is the largest reason these Bruins were able to achieve so much.
Saturday’s dominating performance capped off a season in which the Bruins, who entered the game ranked No. 11 by USA Today, went 15-0 against Missouri Class 5 opponents.
None of these 15 games were decided by less than 11 points.
Chayla Cheadle said the Bruins toughest competition comes in practice, where each of the fourteen players have been pushing each other since June.
“Obviously, they’re not the typical high school team,” Broncos coach Tricia Lillygren said.
Supervising editor is Wade Livingston