Flashes of purple streaked across the Rock Bridge basketball court all of Tuesday night, surrounding the basketball wherever it moved. The purple was that of Liberty’s jerseys, but it more resembled a swarm than a team. The Bruins could not help but become engulfed.
Utilizing a fast-moving zone defense, the Liberty Blue Jays stifled the Rock Bridge girls basketball team Tuesday night en route to a 41-39 victory in the Bruins home opener.
On every Bruins posession, the Blue Jays backcourt pestered the Rock Bridge guards, while the Bruins post players discovered a defense collapsing around them whenever an entry pass was made. The defense lasted throughout the night, as evidenced by the six Bruins turnovers in both the first and fourth quarters.
After the game, Rock Bridge forward Ashley Dressler wiped away tears, caused either by the sweat dripping into her eyes or the defeat.
“They just wanted it more,” said the senior, who led the Bruins with 16 points. “It’s our house, but they wanted it more than we did. That’s the bottom line.”
Dressler explained that the game plan to beat the Blue Jays’ zone was to utilize pass fakes to draw the defense out of position, clearing way for layups and open jump shots.
It was obvious Tuesday night, Dressler said, that the game plan never came to fruition.
“They were aggressive on defense, and they were really pressuring the ball at the top of the key,” Dressler said. “We weren’t executing, and we paid for it.”
Amaya Williams, a freshman guard playing in her first home game in her Rock Bridge career, was in no mood to talk after the game as she exited the locker room with slumped shoulders. When asked what went wrong, Williams kept her answer short.
“We just didn’t do it,” snapped Williams, who finished with nine points. “We didn’t put it together tonight.”
Second-year coach Jill Nagel spent most of the game barking orders at her struggling squad in a vain attempt to help them break the Liberty zone.
Sitting on the bleachers after the game, Nagel looked exhausted, frustrated and, above all, disappointed.
“Liberty is a good team, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them,” Nagel said, “but we beat ourselves tonight. Liberty didn’t beat us; Rock Bridge beat us. Now we have to go back to practice and work out all the kinks in the offense.”
The loss drops the Bruins to 1-2 on the season, a far cry from the 23-3 record that the team tallied last season. Nagel cited a tougher first part of the schedule as a possible reason behind the drop-off from last year, but refused to use it as an excuse.
“We don’t lose ballgames,” Nagel said. “We’re a team that wins. With that said, it’s still very early in the year. The season is young.”
Dressler, one of the three Bruins seniors and one of three returning starters attempting to follow the highly successful 2005-2006 season, admitted that losing two games so early in the year is a foreign feeling.
“I definitely don’t like it,” Dressler said, forcing a smile. “It’s just that simple. But hopefully, we’ll end the season with just two losses.