Rock Bridge guard Bella Corrado (11) and Park Hill South forward Avery Simmons reach for the ball in the MSHSAA Class 6 quarterfinals Saturday at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. The Bruins won 58-57.
Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel motions to her players after Bruins guard Lexi Butts made a shot in the MSHSAA Class 6 quarterfinals against Park Hill South on Saturday at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 58-57.
Rock Bridge freshman Jayda Porter was dominant in the Bruins’ MSHSAA Class 6 quarterfinal against Park Hill South, scoring 34 points in a 58-57 victory Saturday at State Fair Community College in Sedalia.
“She set the tone early,” Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said of Porter. “She just said, ‘No, this is my paint, and I’m going up.’”
Porter, a 6-foot-2 center, took early control of the paint and scored the first 11 points for the Bruins.
It was a battle in the post for much of the game, with Park Hill South having the height advantage against Rock Bridge.
Addison Bjorn and Avery Simmons were the driving forces for the Panthers down low, scoring 21 and 17 points, respectively.
But no matter what Park Hill South did, its defense couldn’t handle Porter. Not only was Porter fierce on offense, her defense also shined for the Bruins (23-7).
Park Hill South (26-4) made it a back-and-forth game for the entire first half, helped by numerous second-chance opportunites on the offensive glass. Rock Bridge led 22-17 at halftime.
The Bruins kept momentum in the third quarter by feeding the ball inside to Porter, and guard Mari Miller sank a corner 3 to stretch the lead to double digits.
It looked like the Bruins had a trip to the state semifinals locked up going into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers came roaring back.
Rock Bridge’s double-digit lead quickly diminished as Park Hill South amped up its pressure.
The Bruins’ lead shrunk to as little as two points with less than two minutes to go.
After the two teams traded baskets, Bjorn sank a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to cut the Panthers’ deficit to one.
Rock Bridge had a tough time inbounding the ball against heavy pressure, and Park Hill South almost forced a turnover, but a hustle play by senior Bella Corrado secured the Bruins’ victory.
“I’m just unbelievably proud of how hard our kids played,” Nagel said. “The hustle play at the end by Bella Corrado just summed up everybody and what they did this entire game.”
Rock Bridge will take on Eureka in the Class 6 semifinals 6 p.m. Friday at Great Southern Bank Arena in Springfield.
Eureka (23-7) advanced to the state semis with a 54-38 win over Jackson on Saturday.
Incarnate Word Academy and Raytown will follow in the other semifinal.