No. 4 Bulldogs tune up for No. 1 Helias Tuesday, 86-50.

Now, that’s more like it!

On Tuesday the Rolla High School boys’ basketball team cleaned up some things that hampered its effectiveness the previous last few games.

And the victim was Ozark Conference rival Springfield Hillcrest.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 in the Missouri Class 4 state poll, tuned up for their upcoming clash with Class 4 No. 1-ranked team Jefferson City Helias by blasting the Springfield Hillcrest Hornets 86-50 Tuesday at the RHS gym.

Rolla improves to 11-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. The Hornets fall to 5-6 and 0-2.

RHS head coach Mark Miller said the Bulldogs concentrated on containing Hillcrest’s standout 6-2 junior guard Brady Petry, who leads the Hornets in scoring. And Rolla was successful. Petry scored a game-high 19 points, but only eight of those points came in the first half when the outcome was still somewhat uncertain.

“We played the same kind of defense as we did against (Columbia Hickman all-state guard Jimmy Whitt),” Miller said. “(RHS senior guard Landon) Maynard face-guarded Petry. Landon worked his tail off and we run-and-jumped (defense) their other guys and forced some turnovers.

“And when we throw the ball in the hole like we did it makes things easier and fun.”

Indeed, Rolla regained its shooting touch from the perimeter and finished off baskets in the paint better than it has in previous games.

Bulldog junior guard Kobe Wands drilled a three-pointer to open the game and the Bulldogs led throughout. A 21-7 run to end the first period gave RHS a 27-12 cushion heading into the second period.

Rolla nailed three 3-pointers in the first period - including a couple of 25-footers by junior guard Zach Brown.

K. Wands opened the second period with eight unanswered points. And his trey at the 6:30 mark upped the RHS advantage to 23 - 35-12.

The Bulldogs went into intermission with a 44-23 edge.

Rolla’s lead would not dip below 19 points in the second half. A 9-0 run over a 1:47 span late in the third period put the Bulldog lead into the 30s. Brown’s layup off an assist by 6-4 senior forward Caleb Copeland with 2:52 left gave RHS a 31-point advantage.

It was 67-37 entering the fourth period.

Copeland paced a balanced Bulldog attack with 18 points while K. Wands added 16 points and Brown 14. In all 10 RHS players scored.

Hillcrest’s junior varsity team won its first game of the season Tuesday, beating Rolla 52-46.

Rolla’s jayvee squad led 12-10 after the first period but Hillcrest took a 23-19 halftime edge. RHS trailed 42-33 entering the fourth period.

Freshman guard Josh Pritchett had 13 points for the Rolla jayvee squad, now 4-3.

Now the Bulldogs will brace the top-ranked Helias Crusaders, who come into the RHS gym Friday. The junior varsity game is to begin at 6 p.m. with the varsity contest to follow.

Helias comes in with a 11-2 record after blasting the No. 5 Class 4 squad, Moberly, 71-49 last week. The winner of Friday’s Rolla-Helias tilt will be the early favorite to earn the top seed for the Missouri Class 4 District 10 Tournament, to be held at Osage High School on March 2-7.

“That was what we were talking about (Tuesday) - preparing for Friday,” Miller said. “We want to prepare to take care of district and part of that is Friday, which could determine the top seed.”

Rolla 86, Hillcrest 50
Rolla (11-2, 1-1): Brown 5-0-14, K. Wands 6-0-16, Kaden 1-1-3, C. Wands 2-1-5, Marshall 3-2-9, Maynard 1-1-3, O’Brennan 3-0-7, Short 3-0-9, Copeland 7-4-18, Janke 1-0-2, Totals 32-9-86.
Hillcrest (5-6, 0-2): Trombetta 1-0-2, Clark 1-0-2, Pryor 4-0-12, Podurgiel 1-3-5, Washington 2-0-4, Petry 7-4-19, Sanders 2-0-6, Totals 18-7-50.

Junior Varsity
Hillcrest 52, Rolla 46
Rolla (4-3): Pritchett 4-3-13, Grooms 1-0-3, Lajubutu 1-0-2, Cunningham 2-0-4, Burns 2-5-9, Buhr 2-1-5, Douglas 1-0-2, Janke 4-0-8, Totals 17-9-46.
Hillcrest (1-6): Powell 6-4-17, Jones 1-0-3, Terry 2-5-9, Sanders 7-0-17, Crawford 1-0-3, Duke 1-0-3, Totals 18-9-52.