The Rolla boys basketball team hosted Salem for their District Semi-Final on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
The score at the end of the first quarter said it all on Tuesday night: 23-0 Rolla. The Bulldogs played a nearly perfect first quarter when they hosted Salem for the District Semi-Final and it set the tone for a dominant 72-34 win.
Rolla didn't come into this game at full health, but that didn't slow them down. The Bulldogs starting lineup consisting of sick players and Blaize Klossner with a black eye and a thick headband to cover up stitches, but they still came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Six different Bulldogs scored in the first quarter, as Rolla steam rolled the Tigers. Forwards Nick Janke and Davie Pound each scored six points to lead the offensive charge and it was a full team effort on the defensive end. Salem had a few scoring chances on layups, but they couldn't get a shot to fall in the quarter and Rolla ended the first with a staggering 23-0 lead.
Salem was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief early in the second when Cody Rictor finally got the Tigers' first bucket of the game. While Salem finally scored, Rolla didn't slow down at all in the second quarter. The Bulldogs matched their scoring effort in the second quarter with another 23 points and their defense held Salem to just nine points. Familiar faces led the Rolla offense in the second, as Josh Pritchett and Alec Buhr each scored seven points in the quarter. Buhr's final bucket was a three at the buzzer, which sent Rolla into the half with a 46-9 lead.
Rolla was able to coast for most of the second half. Salem upped their offense with 17 points in the third, but the Bulldogs scored another 15 points to maintain their lead. The Bulldog JV played most of the fourth quarter for Rolla, as they scored a final 11 points to put a cherry on their 72-34 win.
Buhr led all scorers with 13 points, Pound added 11 and Coby Martin rounded out the double digit scorers with 10. A total of nine Rolla players scored in the game, which also included nine points from Josh Pritchett, eight from Janke, seven from Klossner, six points from Muluken Pritchett, five from Trey Brown and three from Aaron Cunningham.
The dominant fashion of the win was really helpful for Rolla. With their number of players they've had fighting illness and injuries, it was important to get those guys back into the flow of a game, but not to the point that they were overly taxed.
"That's what we had in mind. The guys got after it right from the start and pulled out to that huge lead and never looked back," said head coach Mark Miller after the game. "It's nice to have a game like that where we can sit guys that need to be rested a little bit and we get guys experience that need experience."
Klossner played extremely well despite the fact that he took an elbow to the eye less than a week ago. Coach Miller said he could tell that Klossner was going to play well when the junior guard was shooting during warmups.
"I could tell from warmups, I was watching him in warmups just to keep an eye on him and boy he was shooting the ball so well," said the Rolla head coach. "I expected big things when he came out."
Now Rolla's number one goal is to get healthy over the next couple of days before a rematch against Helias for the District Championship. Helias has beaten Rolla for the District Championship in each of the last two seasons. The Bulldogs beat Helias earlier this year 68-58 earlier this season.
"Well first thing is to get everybody healthy, myself included, get this sickness out of here," said Miller. "Mostly what you do at this time of year is you get a little bit of a gameplan, but you work on what you do."