The Rolla boys basketball team (4-0) took part in the Republic Tournament Thursday, Nov. 29 - Saturday, Dec. 1. The Bulldogs had some bumps in the road, but they managed to grind out wins over Springdale, Republic and Ozark to win the tournament.
Rolla had to overcome a rough start in their tournament opener against Springdale on Thursday night. The Bulldogs couldn't get their offense going in the first quarter, as they scored just five points in the opening frame. Springdale, meanwhile, was firing on all cylinders, scoring 20 points led by a 12 point performance from Jajuan Boyd.
The Bulldogs instantly had a big hole to climb out of, which started in the second quarter. Alec Buhr went off for eight points in the quarter, while Benjamin Colench added five points. Rolla scored 21 points in the quarter and cut the deficit to 34-26 at the half.
Rolla completed the comeback in the third with another big quarter of offense and excellent defense. The Bulldogs held Springdale to just six points in the quarter, four of which came on free throws. Buhr added eight points in the third quarter, while Trey Brown knocked down a pair of threes and scored eight points of his own in the frame. Rolla scored 18 points in the frame to take a 44-40 lead going into the fourth.
The Bulldogs sealed their win with great free throw shooting in the fourth. Rolla went to the charity stripe 14 times in the quarter, converting on 10 of those attempts. Buhr closed out the game by making all eight off his free throw attempts, while adding another basket from the field for 10 points to finish off a 58-51 win.
Buhr led the team in scoring with 28 points in the win, while Brown added 10 points off the bench. Shivers chipped in with six points, Colench added five and Trey Quick scored four. RJ Alfred and Danny Foster each scored two points and Blaize Klossner added a free throw in his return to action.
Things didn't get any easier for Rolla on Friday night, as they struggled to find their offense in the first half. Rolla scored just 20 points in the first half against Republic, 11 of which came from Alec Buhr. The Bulldog defense did enough to slow down the tournament hosts, which kept them in the game at the half. Despite the strong defensive effort, Rolla went into the half trailing 20-15.
The Bulldogs turned the game around after the break, outscoring their entire first half scoring effort in the third quarter alone. Klossner led the charge with seven points, while Brown and Muluken Pritchett each buried a three in a 21-point quarter. The Rolla defense continued to keep Republic in check and the Bulldogs were able to take a 36-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Both teams had their offense pick up in the fourth, but Rolla hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Buhr took the game over in the fourth, scoring 12 points in the final quarter, while hitting four of his six free throw attempts. Brown hit another three in the quarter, as well, as Rolla finished off a 56-48 victory.
Buhr again led the team in scoring with 27 points in the semi-final victory. Klossner added nine points, Brown scored six points and Pritchett chipped in five more. Alfred scored three points for the Bulldogs, while Quick, Colench and Foster each added two points.
The victory put Rolla into the tournament championship against Ozark. The Bulldogs got out to a better start on Saturday thanks to some help from Ozark. Rolla went to the free throw line nine times in the first quarter and hit all nine attempts. Those free throws mixed with good defense and a three by Brown gave Rolla a 12-6 lead through the first.
Brown stayed hot from long range in the second quarter, as he knocked down a pair of threes in the frame. Rolla's defense stayed strong, but Ozark was able to close the gap to 22-17 at the half.
Defense continued to push Rolla ahead in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs held Ozark to just three points. Brown kept rolling by single-handedly outscoring Ozark with five points in the third and Rolla went into the fourth with a 36-20 lead.
Both teams cranked up the scoring in the fourth, as Ozark scored more in the fourth than they had in the first three quarters combined with 29 points. Rolla was able to maintain their lead with scoring across the board. Brown scored six points to lead the way, while Buhr, Klossner, Quick and Shivers each added four points. As a team, Rolla was 9-11 from the charity stripe in the fourth as they put the cherry on top of a 60-49 win.
Brown led Rolla with 20 points in the victory. He was joined in double figures by Buhr and Klossner, who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. Pritchett added five points, while Shivers and Quick each chipped in with four points. Alfred, Foster and Jack Hounsom each added two points.
"We faced three teams in three days that are of the highest quality," said head coach Mark Miller on the tournament. "Our guys beat the best teams in this tournament to win a championship. Great defense, great offense, great teamwork and a great basketball family! Very proud of these guys."
The Bulldogs will return to their home court to face off against cross-town rival St. James on Tuesday, Dec. 4.