The Rolla Bulldogs are breathing a little easier these days.

The Rolla Bulldogs are breathing a little easier these days.
The RHS boys’ basketball team was starting to player tighter and tighter during a three-game losing streak. However, the Bulldogs got a much-needed relaxer during the seventh-place game of the US Bank/Rolla High School Holiday Invitational in the form of a 65-59 victory over Salem Wednesday at the RHS gym.
Rolla snapped the three-game skid and upped its record to 3-5. Salem fell to 3-6.
Due to the early holiday deadline for today’s edition, coverage of the rest of the Wednesday Holiday Invitational games will be provided in the weekend edition of the Daily News.
Bulldog head coach Mark Miller acknowledged that Wednesday’s win was a big one for his squad.
“We need the wounds to close a little bit,” Miller said. “I thought the biggest thing was how hard we played. We made our share of mistakes, but some of those mistakes came from playing so hard.
“We’re working through some things; a change in style than we’re used to. We’re trying to give them some structure. In the past it was pretty much all about dribble-drive.”
A 6-0 run to end the third period allowed Rolla to take the lead into the fourth period. Brendon Dowdy, a 6-4 junior forward, canned a jumper in the lane with :48 left and Rolla took a 43-37 edge into the final period.
That lead didn’t last long, however, as Salem reeled off 10 unanswered points to start the fourth quarter, aided by three straight RHS turnovers. A three-point jumper by 5-9 junior Phillip Moser with 5:39 left following a Bulldog turnover gave Salem a 47-43 advantage.
Rolla whittled away and at the 3:52 mark a three-pointer by 6-2 senior Chris Bowe off the right baseline tied things up 51-51.
Salem 6-0 senior Grant Gordon completed a conventional three-point play at the 2:59 mark to give the Tigers the lead.
The Bulldogs then went on a 8-0 run which proved to be the difference. Senior guard Andrew Chism made a steal and later fired a pass to Bowe, who converted a layup with 1:46 remaining to end the RHS run and give the Bulldogs a 59-54 edge.
Salem wouldn’t go away, as Moser drained a three-pointer with 1:21 left to make it a two-point edge.
After the two teams exchanged layups the Bulldogs’ Jeff Hinshaw was fouled with :31 left. Hinshaw hit both ends of the one-and-one attempts to give Rolla a 63-59 advantage.
Moser then missed a three-point attempt, Bowe rebounded and was fouled. However, Bowe missed the front end of the one-and-one Salem streaked up court and senior guard C.J. Smith got off a trey, which was also off the mark and Chism was fouled on the rebound. Chism hit both free throws to seal the Bulldog victory.
Senior guard Tyler Sinnott scored a game-high 18 points to lead Rolla while Dowdy added 11 points and Chism dished out six assists.
Four players scored in double figures for Salem, with Gordon and senior guard Zach Pitchford each finishing with 13 points, Smith 12 and senior forward Cody Wofford 11.
“We ran Chism more at the high post and that allowed him to do some different things, and he finished with six assists,” Miller said. “Dowdy stepped up and played a little harder than he’s been playing.”
The Bulldogs are scheduled to play a pair of games next week, traveling to Waynesville for a Ozark Conference contest on Tuesday and hosting Union in non-league action Friday at the RHS gym. On both nights the junior varsity game is to begin at 6 p.m. with the varsity contest to follow.