Both the Rolla and St. James high school boys' basketball teams entered Tuesday's non-conference clash at Donati Gym in desperate need of a victory and strong showing.
RHS got it. St. James did not.
Taking advantage of a cool Tiger shooting hand to start the game, the Rolla Bulldogs led from start to finish Tuesday, 66-42.
Rolla improves to 2-3 while the Tigers fall to 1-3.
In addition to the cold shooting night, St. James head coach Ben Smith watched the Bulldogs successfully attack the Tigers' normally-tight, trapping defense.
RHS head coach Mark Miller is glad he got St. James early while it is still adjusting. Miller said he knows his Bulldogs may see the Tigers later in the season (in the St. James Tournament) and says they will be typical St. James tough by then.
"This is a really good team," Miller said of St. James. "They're missing their point guard (senior Cody Birkner will be out for a couple more weeks with a broken foot) and if he comes back it will do a lot for them. Before it's over they'll be able to play with anybody."
The Bulldogs went on a 8-0 run to start the game and never looked back. A three-pointer out of the right corner by junior forward Shane O'Brennan following a steal by junior guard Carter Wands made it 8-0.
After St. James' junior guard Logan Courtois answered with a three-pointer, RHS went on a 12-2 run to end the period. And a layup by O'Brennan with :39 remaining gave RHS a 20-5 advantage entering the second quarter.
The Tigers cut their deficit to eight points midway through the second quarter on a three-pointer by L. Courtois. However, a 18-5 run to end the half put RHS in control.
A putback by 6-4 junior forward Caleb Copeland to close out the half gave the Bulldogs a 41-20 bulge at intermission.
It was much the same in the second half, as the RHS lead dipped below 20 points on just one possession. And a layup by O'Brennan with 1:18 remaining in the third period gave the Bulldogs their largest advantage of the game, 58-31.
Rolla has had struggles of its own early on, and Tuesday's performance was much-welcomed on the Bulldog bench.
"Especially after the last game at the Buffalo Tournament (a 48-46 setback to Ozark Conference rival Camdenton in the third-place game), when we played really flat," Miller said. "We've been trying to figure out who we are.
"We needed to come out (Tuesday) with a lot of energy and shoot the ball well, and we did both of those."
Copeland fired in a game-high 24 points for the Bulldogs, who had 10 players in the scoring column. O'Brennan added 13 points and sophomore guard Kobe Wands 11. RHS canned eight 3-pointers.
Page 2 of 2 - L. Courtois was the lone Tiger to score in double figures, with 17 points.
Rolla also won the junior varsity game 48-37. The Rolla jayvee squad took a 13-8 lead after the first period and went into halftime up 26-14. Rolla led 34-24 entering the fourth period.
Sophomore guard Ulrik Mjaaseth tallied 15 points to lead the Rolla jayvee team, now 4-1. Freshman John Walters had 14 points for the jayvee Tigers, 0-3.
The Bulldogs return home to host Salem Tuesday, with the jayvee game starting at 6 p.m. at the RHS gym and the varsity contest to follow.
St. James plays at Salem on Friday (6 p.m.).
Rolla 66, St. James 42
Rolla (2-3): Facen 1-0-2, Kean 1-0-2, K. Wands 4-0-11, Kaden 1-0-2, C. Wands 0-1-1, Froehlich 1-0-2, Marshall 3-0-7, Maynard 0-2-2, O'Brennan 5-0-13, Copeland 10-3-24, Totals 26-6-66.
St. James (1-3): Dean 1-1-3, L. Courtois 5-4-17, Sconiers 3-1-7, Conway 3-2-8, Strait 2-0-6, Witt 0-1-1, Totals 14-9-42.
Rolla (4-1): Kaden 4-0-9, Mjaaseth 6-1-15, Dai 4-0-8, McCann 1-0-2, Hoffman 0-1-1, Reed 2-0-4, Brown 3-2-9, Totals 20-4-48.
St. James (0-3): Barber 3-0-8, N. Bartle 3-1-7, Davis 1-0-2, Brawley 1-2-4, Walters 5-3-14, Christisen 1-0-2, Totals 14-6-37.