The Rolla boys basketball team (11-1) traveled up to Helias on Friday, Jan. 12. The game was crucial in deciding the top seed for the District Tournament. The Bulldogs now have the leg up after pulling out a 68-58 victory.
Rolla slowly built out their lead throughout the game and got things started with a solid first quarter. Free throws were big for the Bulldogs in the entire game and they kicked things off by hitting five shots from the charity stripe in the first. Alec Buhr also hit a three to score five points in the quarter, giving Rolla an early 14-12 lead.
Helias was able to stay in the game early by knocking down threes, hitting two in the first and three more in the second. The Bulldogs, however, were able to pull away a little in the second with a 19 point quarter. Buhr scored six more points in the second, while Blaize Klossner and Josh Pritchett each added five more with a three and two more points a piece. Those three helped propel Rolla to a 33-25 lead at the half.
Rolla kept building on that lead with strong defense in the third. The Bulldogs held Helias to just nine points, all of which came on three three-pointers from Lanson Harrison. Rolla had another solid offensive quarter to extend their lead, as Klossner knocked down a pair of threes to lead the Bulldogs with six points. Pritchett added four more as the Rolla lead stretched out to 47-34 headed into the fourth.
Both teams then exploded offensively, with a total of 45 points being scored in the fourth. Rolla closed out the game by getting things done at the free throw line, knocking down 10 of their 13 attempts. Klossner hit another three and led Rolla with nine points to close out the 68-58 win.
Klossner led Rolla with 22 points in the win, while Buhr and Pritchett each chipped in 17. Nick Janke added six points, while Coby Martin scored five.
"What a fun night of basketball. The guys definitely came to play and beat a very high quality Helias team," said head coach Mark Miller. "The Sixth Man and all of our Rolla fans turned out in big numbers and our guys didn't disappoint."
Coach Miller specifically lauded his team for hitting big shots all night long.
"We hit so many big shots, played quality defense and hit free throws well," said coach Miller. "That's the ticket to winning a big game. It's not easy beating Helias at their place. It certainly plays huge in the seeding of our District Tournament."
Next up for Rolla is the St. James Tournament. The Bulldogs are the tournament's top see and will start the tournament by facing off against Salem on Monday, Jan. 15.