Hickman coach Kenny Ash still had a tear on his cheek when he came out of the locker room. The first-year coach’s efforts to wipe away the telltale moisture before facing reporters had failed.
The Hickman boys basketball team lost to long-time rival, Rock Bridge 56-46 in a 14-team shootout at the Mizzou Arena on Sunday. It was the first time they faced each other this season.
“The boys just wanted to show that they can play well against Rock Bridge,” a disappointed Ash said. “It’s hard to lose to a rival. That’s how rivalry is.”
Ash, the son of former Kewpies basketball coach Ken Ash and 1988 graduate of Rock Bridge, took over as head coach of the Kewpies this fall. So far, Ash has led the team to an 8-6 record this season. Hickman finished 13-15 last year.
Kenny Ash said the Kewpies played inconsistently.
“They executed and we didn’t,” Ash said. “Their offense and defense controlled the game.”
Rock Bridge’s Isaiah Warren had a big hand in both. The freshman came off the bench to score 19 points, arguably his best game of the season.
“He’s a good sixth man to have,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “He’s always waiting on the sidelines, eager to go in.”
After entering in the first quarter, it took a while for Warren to warm up, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that he surged. He made three baskets and five free throws, his 11 points in the quarter cushioning the Bruins’ 34-31 third quarter advantage.
He was also a big reason the Bruins (10-1) were able to execute an effective defense. Their trapping full-court press forced the Kewpies to turn the ball over multiple times, and at least two Warren steals resulted in baskets for Rock Bridge.
“He fights really hard for the ball.” Bruins senior Aron White said. “I’m glad to have a guy like that on my team.”
Rock Bridge sophomore Jordan Dressler finished with 13. White and fellow senior Logan Gray had eight points each.
Ash said it was difficult for Hickman to get into a rhythm because whenever his team played aggressively on defense, the officials called fouls.
“It’s hard for them to find the flow of things,” Ash said.
Not that Hickman didn’t try. Kewpies senior
Byron Bundy, like Warren, shot his best during the second half. After swishing a three-point basket from the top of the arc in the first quarter, Bundy was quiet until the third, but he scored 17 points in the second half, including two more three-pointers.
Bundy had help from sophomore Josh Elam, who had eight points and junior Ben Dierkes, who came of the bench to make three three-pointers for nine points.
Scanlon said he didn’t think his team had much flow either.
“It was never really fluid,” he said. “We’d get bits and pieces, steal and get the points, then do nothing for two minutes. It was a typical Rock Bridge-Hickman game.”
The difference was the arena.
“It was easier than playing at Hickman,” Scanlon said smiling. “It wasn’t as hot.”
Hickman and Rock Bridge don’t meet again until Jan. 25 at Rock Bridge. The Bruins play in the Smith-Cotton Tournament this week. Hickman plays next at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Helias.