In many ways Tuesday's Missouri Class 5 District 10 Tournament semifinal defeat at the hands of Waynesville was a microcosm of the Rolla High School boys' basketball team's entire season: Flashes of excellence but stretches of youthful, mistake-filled droughts.
Those droughts in the final seconds of the first half and the opening minutes of the second half ended the second-seeded Bulldogs' season, as third-seeded Waynesville posted a 56-45 semifinal victory at the RHS gym.
In the other semifinal on Tuesday top-seeded Washington knocked off fifth-seeded Lebanon 58-42.
On Thursday at the RHS gym Waynesville and Washington meet in a girls/boys district championship doubleheader, with the girls' game scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and the boys' contest following at 7:30 p.m.
The Rolla boys end their season with a 13-13 record.
Waynesville 56, Rolla 45
For a half the Bulldogs and Waynesville Tigers swapped baskets.
A three-pointer off the top of the key by junior guard Tyler Kean gave RHS a 14-11 lead with :48 left in the first period. Waynesville's 6-8 junior forward Kellieon Williams hit a layup to end the first-quarter scoring and cut Rolla's edge to 14-13.
RHS led throughout the second period. And a pair of free throws by junior forward Aaron Froehlich at the 2:48 mark gave the Bulldogs their largest advantage, 26-19.
However, the Tigers began to turn it around in the final 1:20 of the first half, outscoring Rolla 6-0.
With 21 seconds left in the half Waynesville 6-3 junior guard Nicholas Crabtree, in the game only because of the non-basketball leg injury that sidelined 6-5 junior forward Javante Armstrong, grabbed an offensive rebound, scored on the put-back and was fouled.
Crabtree missed the free throw but wasn't blocked out and got his own rebound and put in a layup to trim Rolla's halftime edge to 26-25 and put the momentum squarely on the shoulders of the Tigers entering intermission.
The Tigers went on a 16-3 run to open the third period. Senior guard D.J. Hargrow canned a 10-footer in the lane with 1:08 remaining in the third period to give the Tigers their largest lead, 41-29.
Rolla snapped out of it in the final minute of the period, getting three-pointers from freshman guard Kobe Wands and Kean to cut its deficit to 41-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Another Kean trey at the 6:09 mark of the fourth quarter trimmed Waynesville's lead to six.
However, Rolla would get no closer. A layup by senior guard Ethan Howser at the 4:51 mark to give Waynesville a nine-point edge. RHS was outscored 5-3 in the final three minutes.
"We just had a little spell where we lost our composure and went cold from the floor," said RHS head coach Mark Miller. "And that was enough. (Waynesville) is really a good basketball team when they do things well. And went they get Armstrong back next year...oh, my!"
Page 2 of 2 - "At 26-19 we took a timeout at 2:30," said Waynesville head coach Chris Pilz. "We took Crabtree, who was playing well on the jayvee, and he came up big. Then in the third quarter we got up plus-12. Rolla played hard. It was a good, competitive game. It looks like that's the way it will be for several years."
Caleb Copeland, a 6-3 sophomore forward, scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace the Bulldogs while Kean scored 12 points – all on three-pointers.
Hargrow led Waynesville, now 14-12, with 14 points while Williams and 6-7 sophomore forward Juwan Morgan had 13 each.
Waynesville now prepares for the Washington Bluejays while Rolla prepares for next season.
"They've been playing a tough schedule and (6-5 junior forward Ronnie) Suggs is a Division I player and 6-3 senior forward Luke Schroepfer) is a Division II player," Pilz said of Washington. "Their coach (Chip Sodemann) was a great high school player and a great college player in the MIAA. He's done a great job with those guys. It's going to come down to how hard each team plays."
"We've got a lot coming back," Miller said. "We've got to fine-tune our skills and play with more composure under pressure. I think we will do that. It should be a bright future."
Rolla (13-13): Kean 4-0-12, Wands 2-0-6, Froehlich 0-2-2, O'Brennan 1-0-2, Copeland 8-5-23, Totals 15-7-45.
Waynesville (14-12): Hargrow 4-6-14, Howser 2-0-5, Williams 5-3-13, Johnson 2-2-6, Morgan 6-1-13, Presberry 2-1-5, Totals 21-13-56.
Washington 58, Lebanon 42
The pesky Lebanon Yellowjackets made a game of it but eventually didn't have the firepower to beat Washington, now 18-9.
Lebanon ends the season 2-24.
Washington took a 12-7 lead after the first period and held on to a 27-21 halftime advantage.
The Bluejays opened up their advantage by outscoring the Jackets 17-9 in the third period to take a 44-30 lead into the fourth period.
Schroepfer scored 20 points and Suggs added 17 for Washington.
Washington (18-9): Carpenter 1-2-5, Menke 2-3-7, Mulkey 1-3-5, Schroepfer 5-9-20, Suggs 7-2-17, Walde 2-0-4, Totals 18-19-58.
Lebanon (2-24): Plake 0-3-3, Gillen 2-0-6, Archer 4-0-10, Chew 1-0-2, Hicks 0-2-2, Howerton 3-1-8, Dorris 3-0-6, Pearcy 1-3-5, Totals 14-9-42.