The Rolla girls basketball team (9-12, 3-3 OC) hosted Camdenton for an Ozark Conference matchup on Thursday, Feb. 8. After a rough first quarter, Rolla chipped away at the Lady Lakers on their way to a come from behind 68-66 win.
The Lady Bulldogs struggled out of the gate thanks to overwhelming pressure from Camdenton. Rolla turned the ball over 16 times in the opening quarter and the Lady Lakers took advantage. Camdenton opened the game on a 14-1 run and Rolla didn't score from the field until there were just under two minutes left in the first. The Lady Bulldogs got a couple of buckets late, but still went into the second quarter in a 16-5 hole.
Rolla got the spark they needed in the second quarter when Ellie Rodgers entered the game for the first time. The sophomore guard was an absolute force in the second quarter, hitting a three right after coming on the floor for the first time. She and Rebecca Janke helped Rolla climb back into the game. Rodgers scored six points in the second and Janke was dominant defensively in the paint with block after block. Camdenton still controlled the game early in the quarter, which was highlighted by Coley Rezabek scoring her 1,000th point with 6:21 to play in the half. Camdenton called a timeout after the bucket and fans from Camdenton and Rolla gave her a hearty round of applause. The Lady Lakers led 20-8 after the basket, but Rolla kept hanging around. Karlee Cheesman added six more points for Rolla in the quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs still went into the half trailing 34-25.
Rolla started their turnaround in the second quarter, but they got back into the game in the third quarter. Rodgers was phenomenal again in the third quarter, knocking down two threes on her way to a 10-point quarter. The Lady Bulldogs exploded for 21 points in the third quarter and held Camdenton to their worst offensive quarter of the night with 13 points. Abby Miller hit a pair of threes in the quarter, while Rezabek added five points for Camdenton, which helped hold onto a slim 47-46 lead going into the fourth.
The game was tied at 52 quickly in the final quarter and that was another turning point for Rolla. The Lady Bulldogs went on a tear with 12 straight points to jump out to a 64-52 lead. Much like Rolla early on, Camdenton wasn't going down without a fight. The Lady Lakers finally scored again in the fourth with 2:20 to play to bring the score to 64-54 and kept rolling from there. Shelby Kurtz cut the Rolla lead to five with a three right before Miller knocked down a three of her own to bring the score to 66-64 with less than 20 seconds to play. Ellie Rodgers went to the free throw line with 13 seconds to play to try to hold off the Lady Lakers and she hit both to stretch the lead back out to 68-64. Rezabek was able to score for Camdenton with seven seconds left on the clock, but the ball bounced around after the basket and the clock ran out before Rolla even inbounded the ball and the Lady Bulldogs walked away with a 68-66 win.
"We talked at halftime and as bad as we played in the first half, we're only down nine, we're in good shape," said head coach Luke Floyd. "We went on a run in the third quarter and closed it within one and the girls just kept battling. I thought tonight we played with confidence. Even late in the game, even though it got kind of hairy, we had girls that wanted the ball in their hands for a change. They wanted to make sure we were going to win the game."
Rolla had some strong performances across the board on Thursday night. Rodgers led the way with 26 points in only three quarters of play, while also dishing out a team-high six assists. She also had two steals. Janke was a machine in the paint on both sides of the ball. She had a staggering 15 blocks to go along with eight points, eight rebound, three steals and an assist. Cheesman added another 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Coach Floyd praised the spark that Rodgers provided off the bench and Janke's great performance inside in the win.
"Ellie, I think, came in fired up and she was ready to prove a point. She came in and played a heck of a game," said coach Floyd. "I told her and Janke both in the locker room that they did a great job tonight. Rebecca controlling the paint the way that she did, even the shots that she didn't block, she effected a lot of shots and made them nervous late in the game to go up with it. I just can't say enough about the effort these girls put out tonight."
This was an important win for the Lady Bulldogs, who were coming off of three straight losses. Their last two losses were games where they were competitive late, but couldn't quite close things out, losing by less than five points. Coach Floyd saw a different team in the fourth quarter on Thursday night.
"The girls are just tired of losing," said the Rolla head coach. "There's no two ways of putting it, they're just tired of losing and got a win tonight."
Rolla also won the JV game 49-37. Kate Brand had a fantastic game with 20 points to lead the way in the victory.
The Lady Bulldogs will keep going through the rest of the Ozark Conference for the remainder of the regular season. Next up is a home game against Kickapoo on Monday, Feb. 12.