The Rock Bridge boys’ basketball team played with an elastic quality.
The Bruins won 51-31 against Warrensburg, bouncing back after trailing 12-5 midway through the first quarter.
The victory Friday in home opener was important for the Bruins, who were coming off a 44-42 loss at Camdenton on Tuesday.
Coach Jim Scanlon said his team played with intensity his team lacked against Camdenton.
“We played much harder than we did the other night,” Scanlon said. “We were much tougher and that’s kind of the key.”
The Bruins struggled with their outside shooting early and the Tigers (2-2) capitalized, scoring easy points in transition to earn the early lead.
Scoring on the Bruins became increasingly difficult, though. The Bruins settled in on offense and defense, hitting shots they were missing earlier and shutting down Warrensburg with half-court sets.
Warrensburg coach David Liebnitz said the Bruins’ size caused problems for his offense.
“Our strength has been getting the ball inside and their size really got to us,” Liebnitz said. “We just couldn’t match up tonight.”
The Bruins’ quickness on defense also frustrated the Tigers guards, resulting in turnovers and fastbreaks.
Senior guard Terrell Turner started the Bruins’ run late in the first quarter. His steal and layup cut the Tigers’ lead to 12-10.
Another Warrensburg turnover led to senior guard Mitch Erdel’s 3-pointer, giving the Bruins a 13-12 advantage Tigers trailed the rest of the game.
Turner’s defense pressured Tigers freshman point guard D.J. Slifer into mistakes and was instrumental in disrupting the Tigers’ offense.
“He’s may be the best defender we’ll see all year,” Liebnitz said. “He can smother a guard.”
After playing to a 27-18 halftime lead, the Bruins didn’t become complacent. The Tigers to four points in the third quarter.
Erdel, who hadn’t scored in the second quarter, converted consecutive 3-pointers in third quarter to extend the Bruins’ lead to 38-20.
Scanlon said he wasn’t surprised with Erdel’s range, and that the Camdenton loss motivated him.
“You can tell the loss had an effect on him and he didn’t want that to happen again,” Scanlon said.
With the lead, the Bruins’ offense became more patient in the fourth quarter and tried to run down the clock.
After the change in tempo, Brett Gifford, a 6-foot-9 junior center, scored on a move in the post with his left hand after a fake took the defender out of position.
Gifford, the Bruins’ leading rebounder, had the Bruins only double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.