Rock Bridge’s youth served it well on Monday night, and the Bruins had just enough to pull out a win.
Led by two freshmen and a sophomore, the Rock Bridge girls’ basketball team defeated visiting Mexico 51-47 in another close game for the Bruins.
The victory helped avenge Wednesday’s loss to rival Hickman and provided the team with more needed experience.
Guard Claire Schaeperkoetter said the tight wins will only help as the postseason approaches.
“We know that we have two or three weeks where we need to be at our peak,” Schaeperkoetter said. “When districts start we need to be at the top of our game, so we’re just trying to work toward that.”
Schaeperkoetter and Andrea Seabaugh, another freshman guard, made clutch shots and big defensive plays down the stretch for Rock Bridge. Their play, combined with sophomore Ashley Dressler’s strong 18-point performance, was enough to outlast Mexico in the fourth quarter.
Dressler said her teammates’ toughness was the key to the game.
“We have been soft in the past and really soft in the Hickman game (Wednesday night),” Dressler said. “We kind of had to show we were tougher than we had appeared in the last game.”
Coach Kevin Giese said he wanted Rock Bridge to exploit a weakness in Mexico’s post defense by getting Dressler the ball often. The Lady Bulldogs were missing two key players in Amanda Shaw and Tyshell Nunnelly, and the Bruins capitalized.
“We got it in there about half as much as we probably should have,” Giese said. “But we’re starting to finish a little stronger inside and that’s what we need to continue to do.”
The bonus of the night was Seabaugh’s play off the bench.
She scored 10 points and hit big 3-point shots to sustain the Bruins’ third quarter rally. She then iced the game when she received an in-bounds pass with less than a second left, was fouled and sank the two free throws to end the scoring.
Giese said he expects strong play from Schaeperkoetter and Seabaugh and said their initiation into varsity basketball is over.
“I just told them this weekend that they’re no longer allowed to be ninth graders because they’re all basketball players now,” Giese said.
Mexico’s Whitney Widaman refused to let her team lose quietly. The junior scored 21 points to lead all scorers and kept finding open shots against the Bruins’ pressure defense. It was not enough to top the Bruins’ youth wave.
Giese will not coach Rock Bridge (13-5) again until February 10 against Hannibal. He will sit out Friday’s and Monday’s games as part of the sanctions MSHSAA imposed on the program last week.