The Rolla boys basketball team (15-1) hosted Jefferson City on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The Bulldogs, who were just moved up to number seven in Class 4 on the Missouri Coaches Association pole, dominated the game for the first three quarters, but had to hold off a late comeback attempt by the Jays in a 57-51 win.
Rolla played exceptional defense in the first half, allowing just 10 points in the first two quarters. Offensively, the Bulldogs found some consistent scoring from Nick Janke, Josh Pritchett and Alec Buhr. Pritchett and Buhr each knocked down threes for Rolla in the opening half to help give the offense some more punch. Pritchett led Rolla in the first half with nine points, Janke added eight and Buhr chipped in another seven. Those three scored most of Rolla's points in the opening half, as they went into the break with a 27-10 lead.
The third quarter mirrored the first half. The Bulldogs played strong defense, allowing 10 points in the quarter, while scoring another 16 points. Pritchett added another seven points in the third, while Buhr scored another four points. Aaron Cunningham came off the bench to hit a three and the Bulldogs went into the fourth with a solid 43-20 lead.
That's when Jeff City woke up. The Jays exploded for 31 points in the fourth quarter to make Rolla sweat a little bit. Brennan Jeffries knocked down two threes and scored nine points, while DaMani Jarrett scored another eight points. Six different people scored for Jeff City in the fourth quarter.
Rolla needed to take care of things at the free throw line to make sure they could hold onto the win. After going to the charity stripe just four times in the first three quarters, Rolla shot 14 free throws in the fourth. The Bulldogs took care of businesses at the line by hitting 10 of those free throws. Buhr went 5-6 from the charity stripe in the quarter to help lead Rolla to a 57-51 win.
"Well we didn't close the game out the way we would've like, obviously," said head coach Mark Miller. "We ran into a stretch there at the end of the game where we couldn't score, but you have to give credit to our guys for the tough defense that they played, especially before that fourth quarter our defense was solid."
Pritchett led Rolla offensive with 17 points, while Buhr added 16 more. Janke was a constant threat in the middle, recording a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Coach Miller thinks that game was the best Janke has played all season down in the post.
"I thought that was probably Nick's best game," said the Rolla head coach. "That was a very high quality big man that he was going against and for him to have a double-double against that kid speaks highly of Nick's improvement and his work ethic."
The #7 Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 29 when they make the trip down to Joplin.