The #7 Rolla boys basketball team (16-1, 2-0 OC) made their final trip down to Joplin before the Eagles leave the Ozark Conference on Friday, Jan. 26. It was a battle of two of the top teams in the conference, as the Eagles entered the game with a record of 11-3, but the Bulldogs were able to keep their Ozark Conference record clean in a 56-38 win.
The Bulldogs had to make some adjustments on Friday night, as starting point guard Blaize Klossner was out with a high ankle sprain. After playing a great game in the championship of the St. James Tournament, Muluken Pritchett was moved into Klossner's spot in the lineup and played a strong game in his first career start, knocking down a pair of threes.
Rolla got off to a slow start on Friday night, scoring just eight points in the first quarter. Josh Pritchett and Nick Janke each provided four points in the quarter. Joplin was able to hold onto a 9-8 lead through the opening quarter, but Rolla was able to open things up after that.
The Bulldogs doubled their offensive output in the second quarter led by J. Pritchett. The senior forward scored eight points in the quarter, while his brother knocked down a three. Five Bulldogs scored in the quarter and their defense held strong to go into the half with a 25-20 lead.
Rolla never allowed more than 12 points in a single quarter and that defense helped carry them in the second half. The Bulldogs only scored 12 points in the third quarter, but only allowed 12 on the other end. Davie Pound was huge for Rolla in the third quarter, scoring seven of their 12 points. M. Pritchett added a three and Alec Buhr added two more points from the free throw line, as Rolla went into the fourth with a slim 37-32 lead.
The defense sealed the win for the Bulldogs in the fourth, as they held Joplin to just six points. Rolla needed to hit free throws to close out the win and they succeeded in spades. The Bulldogs went 9-11 at the charity stripe in the fourth and scored a total of 19 points in the fourth to run away with a 56-38 win.
J. Pritchett led all scorers with 19 points in the win. Buhr added 10 points, eight of which came in the second half. Pound scored another nine points off the bench. Head coach Mark Miller said the win came as a true team effort.
"The guys really pulled together and played one of their better games Friday against a strong Joplin team," said coach Miller. "With Blaize down with a high ankle sprain, it was next man up time and Muluken Pritchett responded well with the first start of his career.
"Davie Pound had an exceptional game off the bench," continued the Rolla coach. "Aaron Cunningham and freshman Trey Brown gave quality minutes as well."
The JV also won on Friday night, pulling out a 66-63 win. Coby Shivers, Trey Brown and Dawitt Pritchett each scored in double figures in the victory.
Rolla will remain in the Ozark Conference for the next two weeks, as their next six games come against conference foes. Seven of their last eight regular season games will be within the Ozark Conference, the next of which comes on their home court against Joplin on Tuesday, Jan. 30.