The Rolla boys basketball team (12-6, 3-1 OC) made the trip down to West Plains for their second straight road game within the Ozark Conference on Friday, Feb. 3. The Bulldogs earned their third win within the conference as they blew out the Zizzers 78-59.
Rolla set the tone for the game in the first quarter on both side of the basketball. Offensively, they shot the ball lights out, as they would end up doing all game long. Josh Pritchett knocked down a pair of threes and scored 14 points in the first quarter, but he got a lot of help from the guys around him. Zac Burns added another eight points and got baskets from Nick Janke, Brandon Cunningham and Coby Martin on their way to a staggering 28 points in the first quarter. That offensive energy carried over to the defensive side of the ball, where they held West Plains to 11 points to take a 17 point lead into the second.
The offense kept coming in the second, as three different players buried a shot from behind the arc for the Bulldogs in the second. While they didn't quite put up 28 points, they were able to add another 16 points to build on their lead. West Plains nearly matched them in the quarter with 14 points of their own, but the Bulldogs were able to take a 44-25 lead into the half.
The shots kept falling for Rolla in the third quarter with four more threes. Aaron Cunningham knocked down two from long range off the bench and Pritchett added another two threes to his already impressive performance. Pritchett and Aaron Cunningham led the way with eight and six points, respectively, but a total of six Bulldogs scored to contribute to a 22-point third quarter for Rolla. West Plains just couldn't keep up. The Zizzers had 13 points in the quarter and the Bulldogs were able to carry a 66-38 lead into the final frame.
West Plains tried to make a late push with 21 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. Rolla added 12 points to help maintain their lead and they were able to run away with a 78-59 win.
Pritchett led the way with 27 on a nearly perfect shooting performance. He buried five of his six three-point attempts and was 6-6 on his two-point attempts, while also dishing out six assists. Burns added 13 points of his own and Aaron Cunningham had 10 points off of the bench. Nine different players scored for Rolla and head coach Mark Miller liked to have the opportunity to include everyone in the victory.
"It's always nice to get an Ozark Conference win," said Miller. "They did a really nice job shooting the basketball and we got all 12 guys quite a bit of playing time, so it was a nice switch for a change where we were able to play everyone for a long spell.
Rolla has done a great job of getting different bench players to play big roles in their last few wins. Coby Martin has stepped up in the past and on Friday it was Aaron Cunningham.
"Chico (Aaron Cunningham) did a real nice job again on Friday night. He's given us good support off the bench all season long and he just continues to get better," said coach Miller. "It was nice to see him hit a couple of three balls. He's very capable of that and we know he can stretch defenses for us and to end up with 10 points off the bench, he's strong inside and can hit the perimeter ball. I'm glad Chico's rolling with us and not someone else."
Rolla will now stay on the road within the conference with a matchup at Parkview on Tuesday, Feb. 7. This will be a matchup of two potent offenses with similar records and coach Miller is looking forward to the challenge.
"Parkview's got a really good team and they've got one of the premiere players in the league in JP Brown, but it's not just him," said Miller. "They've got a solid starting crew and a nice bench. On their home floor, we're going to have to do a lot of things right. We're going to have to shoot the ball well and I think the guys will be ready to go, they're kinda hitting stride and if we make some shots it should be good news for us."
Pritchett - 27 pts, 6 asts; Burns - 13, A. Cunningham - 10, B. Cunningham - 7, Janke - 6, Martin - 4, Arthur, Klossner, Buhr - 3, Quick - 2 pts