Kirksville defense smothers Bruins

Rock Bridge commits 21 turnovers and endures two long scoring droughts.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:25 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

At least Rock Bridge looked good for the first two seconds.

After that, everything went downhill as Kirksville cruised to a 61-38 girls’ basketball victory Tuesday night at Rock Bridge.

The Bruins, who won the opening tip, had trouble moving the ball and seemed sluggish. At several junctures, Rock Bridge players appeared to be out of position and fighting one another for the ball.

“I thought this game just typified our year,” Rock Bridge coach Bob Plourde said. “Some possessions we concentrated and other possessions, it just wasn’t there. We weren’t executing.”

The Tigers (21-4) continually stymied the Bruins (5-17) with a suffocating half-court press and a strong man defense that forced 21 turnovers.Kirksville coach Curt Riley would have it no other way.

“We’ve played good defense for a long time,” he said. “We hang our hat on that. We try to be so aggressive defensively that we try to get a lot of points out of it.”

The Tigers had a number of wide-open layups and scored 21 points off turnovers.

Although the outcome was rarely in question, the Bruins struggled through the third quarter, for they turned the ball over seven times and were outscored 20-11. Kirksville led by 25 at the end of the period.

Amber Lewellen, Kirksville’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, led the way, scoring 23 on 11-of-13 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three steals.

“She’s an outstanding player,” Plourde said. “The past two times we’ve played Kirksville, she was in foul trouble, but tonight she showed us what she was made of. She is going to make some college really happy.”

Although Lewellen’s individual accomplishments might be something to brag about, she didn’t.

“I’ve been struggling lately and I thought I just played decent tonight,” she said. “I thought we all played really good, though.”

Kirksville led 15-7 after the first period, but used a 10-2 run late in the second quarter to build a 29-13 halftime lead. Rock Bridge threw the ball away seven times and scored six in the quarter.

Although the Tigers shot well, they also had a number of shots that bounced around before falling through. The Bruins couldn’t get any of the lucky bounces the Tigers had as ball after ball went in and out, leaving their fans and players frustrated.

Although this game was a microcosm of Rock Bridge’s season, its inability to score only compounded matters. The Bruins had scoring droughts of 3:10 in the second quarter and 3:20 in the third.

“When you have a season like we’re going through, it is tough to come to practice and it’s tough to get up for a game,” Plourde said. “And then when things go bad, it just seems like a big snowball. When it goes bad, it can get ugly really quick.”

Melissa White was the lone bright spot for the Bruins. Playing in place of Ashley Stanfill, who has a medial collateral ligament injury, White led the team with eight points and five rebounds.

“I’m really impressed with her,” Plourde said. “What she does with her ability is impressive. There is no quit in her.”

Ashley Dressler also played well for Rock Bridge, scoring six and grabbing four rebounds.

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