Rock Bridge sophomore Isaiah Warren stole the ball and the game from Hickman.
Warren’s quick defensive instincts sent the Bruins to a 53-51 victory Thursday night at
With fewer than 15 seconds left, Warren foiled the Kewpies’ attempt to play for the last shot. With the game tied at 51, Warren stole the ball from Kewpies’ guard Michael Washington near midcourt.
Warren said his role is to play defense, and he saw a chance to make a play.
“He wasn’t even looking at me, so I was like that’s my opportunity to do it and that’s what I did,” he said.
After the steal, Warren passed to sophomore Logan Gray, who was fouled with 10.2 seconds left. Gray, who led the Bruins with 11 points, converted the free throw to give Rock Bridge a 52-51 lead.
On the ensuing possession Hickman turned the ball over again. This time, junior John Stull came up with it and was fouled with two seconds left.
He missed his first free throw but made the second, pinning Hickman’s hopes on a last second shot.
Washington’s halfcourt jump shot bounced off the backboard.
The Kewpies (3-6) never trailed until Gray’s free throw and had a 10-point advantage with two minutes left in the third quarter.
The comeback win was especially pleasing for the Bruins
(6-1), who lost both games to the Kewpies last season.
Bruins coach Jim Scanlon said he was relieved his team finally beat the Kewpies.
“I am just happy for the kids because the really wanted kind of get the monkey of their back and win one,” Scanlon said.
The Bruins looked to exploit Hickman’s lack of size but failed to establish an inside game.
Kyle Smith, a senior forward for the Kewpies, scored six of his game-high 21 points in the first three minutes after Gray fouled him on two 3-point attempts. Smith made all six free throws, extending the Kewpies’ lead to 9-3 and taking Gray out of the game until the second half.
Scanlon said his offenses’ early struggles let Hickman increase the tempo.
“If you don’t go down and score with your big guys, and then they come down with quickness … quickness usually always wins,” he said. “Our big guys played fine, but once we got down we couldn’t use them.”
Brett Gifford, the Bruins’
6-foot-9 center wasn’t a factor.
Gifford, who averaged eight points and a team-high seven rebound this season, was held to two points and four rebounds.
The Bruins pulled within two points three times after the early deficit, but the Kewpies responded each time and led by 26-19 at halftime.
Smith and junior guard Taylor Florence, who finished with nine, combined for 21 first-half points.
Scanlon decided to use his depth to get back in the game, as he had after a disappointing first half against Marshall.
Freshman point guard Mike Petrick and Warren entered late in the third quarter in an attempt to match the Kewpies’ speed.
Rock Bridge trailed 40-35 at the start of the fourth quarter when Warren converted a pair of free throws and found a cutting Erik Darkow to bring the Bruins within 40-39.
“I give credit to Mike Petrick the freshman and Isaiah Warren,” Scanlon said. “They kind of sparked us.”
Despite the victory, Scanlon said his team needs to improve.
“We’re happy with the win,” he said, “but we can be much better.”