No. 4 'Dogs vs. No. 8 Tigers.

It all comes down to old conference rivals Rolla and Waynesville.

For the second straight year Rolla and Waynesville high schools will tangle for the championship of the 28th annual US Bank/RHS Holiday Invitational boys’ basketball tournament after posting semifinal victories Tuesday at S&T’s Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building.

Rolla tied the school record for most consecutive victories to begin a season (9-0) by besting Columbia Hickman 72-58 while Waynesville, in a rematch of an earlier-season tourney game, survived a 39-36 decision over Rogers (Ark.) Heritage in Tuesday’s semifinal games.

In Tuesday’s consolation games at the Bullman Building Festus topped Salem 61-49 while Francis Howell Central defeated Warrensburg 65-56.

In the finals on Wednesday Salem was to play Warrensburg at 10:30 a.m. at the Bullman Building with the rest of the games at the RHS gym - Festus vs. Howell Central at 10:30 a.m. in the fifth-place game, Hickman vs. Heritage at 1:30 p.m. in the third-place game and Rolla vs. Waynesville at 4:30 p.m. in the title game.

It will be a matchup of state-ranked teams. Rolla is ranked No. 4 in the Missouri Class 4 state poll while Waynesville, now 8-1, is No. 8 in the Class 5 state poll.
Last year Waynesville won its fourth straight US Bank Holiday Invitational title by beating Rolla in the finals 67-54.

Here are results from Tuesday’s games:

Rolla 72, Hickman 58
The Rolla Bulldogs put on a show for the home fans, forcing the issue on both ends of the court while containing the Hickman Kewpies’ 6-3 senior guard Jimmy Whitt, who has already signed with Arkansas of the SEC.

“We thought going in we needed to do what we do well, and tweak it a little,” said RHS head coach Mark Miller. “Whitt is a superstar and we ran our run-and-jump (defense) with everybody but Whitt. We let Landon Maynard faceguard him. And at the end of the game we needed four guys to guard him, because he was rolling.”

The aggressive Bulldogs came out fast, taking a 14-6 lead after the first period.
Hickman rallied and briefly took a second-quarter lead when 6-7 sophomore Thomas Dutton capped a 10-3 run to open the period with a putback to give the Kewpies a 17-16 edge at the 4:15 mark.

Over the next 2:11 RHS 6-4 senior forward Caleb Copeland scored five points. Dutton’s 15-footer ended the first-half scoring and cut the Rolla edge at intermission to 25-23.

Over the first three minutes of the second half the two teams exchanged baskets. However, RHS ended in a rush, outscoring the Kewpies 13-4 over the final 4:33 of the quarter. A three-pointer by 6-2 junior guard Logan Short gave Rolla a 42-33 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Whitt scored the first five points of the final quarter to trim Rolla’s advantage to four.

But it was all Rolla the rest of the way, as Miller put the ball in the hands of the Wands boys - Kobe and Carter. Kobe, a junior, and Carter, a senior, connected on 17-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Over a three-minute span RHS went on a 18-8 run. With 2:56 remaining 6-4 junior Bulldog Sam Marshall converted a fastbreak layup, was fouled, and added the free throw to make it 60-46. Rolla’s advantage would not dip below 11 the rest of the way.

“The entire game we wanted to get it in Kobe’s and Carter’s hands,” Miller said. “(Hickman) had to defend, got some fouls and sent them to the free throw line...and they are money there.”

Copeland led the Rolla attack with 27 points and nine rebounds while K. Wands hit 15-of-16 free throws and finished with 26 points while C. Wands had four assists, three steals and seven rebounds.

Whitt totaled 24 points for Hickman, now 8-2.

A win Wednesday gives this season’s Bulldogs the school record for consecutive wins to start a season (10), breaking the tie with the 1979-80 RHS squad - which happened to be Miller’s team when he was a senior at RHS.

“I would just love it,” Miller said. “I love that these guys have the opportunity to start with more wins in a season than any other Rolla team. It couldn’t happen to a better group of guys.”

Rolla will be playing a NCAA Division I-signee for the second time in as many days, as the Tigers are led by 6-9 senior standout Juwan Morgan, who will be playing at Indiana of the Big Ten Conference.

“It’s exciting to get back (to the championship game),” Miller said. “Especially against one of the best (Holiday Invitational) fields I can remember. There is a lot of quality in the tournament.”

Waynesville 39, Heritage 36
The low-scoring game was close throughout. Waynesville clung to a 10-9 lead after the first period and went into halftime up 21-18.

The Waynesville Tigers outscored the Heritage War Eagles 9-8 in the third period to take a 30-26 edge into the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer by 5-8 senior guard Rashad Swanson opened the fourth period and gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game, 33-26.

But the War Eagles hung around. And after a Waynesville turnover a layup by junior guard Lexus Hobbs brought them back within a point, 37-36, with :26 remaining.

Waynesville junior guard Reggie Walker hit both ends of one-and-one free throws  with :16 left to make it a three-point game.

Heritage worked for a game-tying final three-pointer, and got an open trey with :04 left, but it was off the mark. Heritage got the offensive board and again put up a three-pointer but it, too, missed at the buzzer.

Junior guard Joe Johnson led Waynesville with 16 points.

Hobbs scored 12 for Heritage, now 9-3. The War Eagles lost to Waynesville three weeks ago in the Rogers, Ark. Arvest Tournament.

Festus 61, Salem 49
In a battle of the Tigers, Festus pulled away from Salem with a big fourth quarter.
Festus led 16-13 after the first period and went into halftime up 30-22. Salem trailed 43-39 entering the fourth period. However, Festus outscored Salem 18-10 in the final quarter.

Junior guard Kamau Kinder netted 23 points while junior guard Preston Purchase had 14 and senior forward Jaden Reddick 12 for Festus, now 6-3.

Junior guard Kobe Mead had 20 points for Salem, 4-4.

Howell Central 65, Warrensburg 56
The Francis Howell Central Spartans held a slim lead most of the way. The Spartans led 17-13 after the first period and 32-31 at halftime.

Warrensburg was outscored 17-8 in the third period and went into the fourth period down 49-39.

Senior forward Jaylen Ray and senior guard Allen Erby each had 14 points and junior guard Dominic Horace 13 for Central, now 6-2.

Senior forward Brady Roop had 17 points for Warrensburg, 3-6.

Rolla 72, Hickman 58
Rolla (9-0): K. Wands 4-15-26, C. Wands 1-5-7, Marshall 2-2-6, O’Brennan 1-1-3, Short 1-0-3, Copeland 11-5-27, Totals 20-28-72.
Hickman (8-2): Crum 3-2-9, Blair 3-0-6, Dutton 5-0-10, Williams 1-0-2, Canty 1-0-2, Thomas 0-3-3, Rolley 1-0-2, Whitt 8-7-24, Totals 22-12-58.

Waynesville 39, Heritage 36
Waynesville (8-1): Swanson 2-0-5, Walker 1-3-5, Johnson 5-1-16, Morgan 3-3-9, Moore 1-0-2, Williams 0-2-2, Totals 12-9-39.
Heritage (9-3): Hobbs 5-1-12, Coover 2-0-5, Olsen 2-0-6, Breedlove 2-0-6, Hirsh 2-0-4, Belnap 1-1-3, Totals 14-2-36.

Festus 61, Salem 49
Festus (6-3): Kinder 9-3-23, Reddick 6-0-12, Wilkes 2-2-6, Ijames 1-0-2, Purchase 5-1-14, Brewer 1-0-2, Fallert 1-0-2, Totals 25-6-61.
Salem (4-4): McClain 1-0-2, Wood 2-1-6, Elliott 0-1-1, Mead 7-5-20, Kyser 0-5-5, Pogue 2-4-8, Woolf 3-0-7, Totals 15-16-49.

Howell Central 65, Warrensburg 56
Howell Central (6-2): Davis 4-0-9, Ray 6-2-14, Hepler 1-0-3, Schweigert 1-1-3, Horace 2-9-13, Crawford 3-3-9, Erby 5-3-14, Totals 22-18-65.
Warrensburg (3-6): Ingram 2-0-6, Dye 3-4-12, Terry 1-0-2, DeVries 1-0-2, Horn 2-3-8, Nappe 0-4-4, Ring 2-0-5, Roop 7-3-17, Totals 18-14-56.