The Rolla boys basketball team (3-1) finished off play in the Republic Tournament with a pair of games on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2. The Bulldogs had a tough second half in Friday's matchup with Ozark, falling 80-56, but rebounded in the third place game to beat the host school 51-48.
Rolla had a tough time slowing down Ozark on Friday night, but kept things close in the first half. Josh Pritchett scored nine of Rolla's 25 first half points, but Ozark had the shooting to match. The Tigers hit four threes in the first half and went to the free throw line 12 times, making eight of them, to take a 32-25 lead into the half.
While the Bulldogs were able to keep things tight in the opening half, things fell apart in the second. Rolla ran into some foul trouble, as Nick Janke and Alec Buhr both fouled out in the fourth quarter. Rolla also had two other players with four fouls. Ozark took advantage and went off, scoring 24 points in both the third and fourth quarters. The Tigers went to the free throw line nine times in the third quarter alone, hitting eight of those attempts, while also hitting two threes. Rolla, meanwhile, couldn't get much going outside of Alec Buhr, who scored nine of Rolla's 15 points in the third quarter.
Rolla trailed by 16 going into the fourth and Ozark kept the hot hand. Quinn Nelson sank two threes to lead the Tigers with 10 points in the fourth quarter, as they again put up 24 points. Rolla tried to keep up with 16 points in the quarter, but they couldn't close the gap in an 80-56 loss.
Buhr led the way for Rolla in the loss with 13 points, while Janke wasn't far behind with 11 points and six rebounds. Pritchett added 10 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.
After taking the tough loss in the semi-final, Rolla kicked back into gear in the third place game on Saturday. The Bulldogs were able to finish the first quarter with a slim 17-16 lead thanks to the scoring efforts of Janke and Pritchett. The senior duo scored all of Rolla's points in the opening frame with Janke scoring 10 and Pritchett adding seven.
Pritchett kept rolling in the second with another seven points, while Buhr added a three and Janke scored two points. But it was Republic who had the upper hand in the second, as the Tigers got 10 points from Broc Smith. Smith also had nine in the first quarter on a trio of threes. Those 10 points and a three from Drew McMillin allowed Republic to tie the game at halftime 29-29.
The third quarter was all Rolla. The Bulldogs kept riding Pritchett's hot hand, as the senior added another seven points in the quarter. Rolla also got four points from Aaron Cunningham off of the bench and threes from Buhr and Blaize Klossner, which carried the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter with a 46-40 lead.
The scoring dropped off in the fourth as Rolla tried to finish off the win and Republic tried to make a comeback. Rolla didn't hit a single shot from the field in the fourth and went 5-9 at the free throw line as they looked to close out the win. After scoring 25 points in the first three quarters, Smith was a non-factor in the fourth and the Bulldogs held Republic to eight points to finish off a 51-48 win.
Pritchett led Rolla with 23 points in the victory, while also grabbing a team-high six boards. Janke was second on the team in scoring with 12, all of which came in the first half. Buhr added eight points and five rebounds in the win.
Next up for the Bulldogs is their cross-town rivalry with St. James on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 5.