The Rolla and St. James girls basketball teams took part in the second day of the Comet Classic in Fatima on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The Lady Bulldogs overcame a slow start to beat the host 58-40, while St. James couldn't quite finish a late comeback in a 40-37 loss to top-seeded Blair Oaks.
Lock down D carries Rolla
The Lady Bulldogs got out to a rough start on Wednesday night, trailing by nine points early in the opening quarter. They were able to find their footing as the quarter continued and eventually tied the game at 14 by the end of the opening quarter. Rolla used their size advantage to get their offense going, as 13 of their 14 points in the first quarter came from their forwards. Savannah Campbell led the way with six points, while Loran Pritchett added five.
With the game tied to start the second, Rolla used excellent defense to carry them to victory. Rolla held Fatima to 10 points in the second quarter, while the Lady Bulldog offense added 16 points. Pritchett and Rebecca Janke each scored four points in the quarter, as Rolla took a 32-24 lead into the half.
The Lady Bulldogs continued to play lockdown defense in the second half to run away with the win. Fatima scored just 16 points in the entire second half as Rolla finished off the win. Rolla's post players continued to dominate the paint in the second half, leading the offense for the remainder of the game. Campbell scored seven points in the second half, while Pritchett scored five and Janke added four to the way to a 58-40 win.
Campbell led Rolla with 15 points in the while adding eight rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Pritchett scored 14 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Janke added 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Ellie Rodgers scored eight points, while dishing out four assists, two steals and two rebounds. Carli Libart chipped in with seven points, two assists, a rebound, a block and a steal in the win.
"We were able to take advantage of our size with Savannah, Rebecca and Loran inside," said head coach Luke Floyd on the key to victory. "Defensively, I thought we did an excellent job not giving them very many clean looks from three. It was a quality win agains a very good team."
Lady Tiger comeback falls just short
Offense was at a premium all night long between St. James and Blair Oaks, but the Lady Tiger defense was able to control the game early. Blair Oaks made just one shot from the field in the opening quarter, scoring seven points in the first. St. James, meanwhile, was able to get their offense going thanks to threes from Aly Bullock and Ashlyn Rinehart. Bullock scored six points in the first, which helped St. James grab an early 11-7 lead.
The second quarter mirrored the first. St. James held Blair Oaks to seven points and managed to hold onto their lead thanks to a combined eight points from Rinhart and Bullock. Rinhart knocked down another three, scoring five points in the quarter. The St. James defense was good enough to get them into the half with a 19-14 lead.
The third quarter was a stalemate, as each team scored seven points in a defensive slugfest. Rinehart hit another three in the quarter, while Bullock and Mikaela Donnelly each scored two points. St. James carried that same five point lead into the fourth quarter 26-21.
Blair Oaks fought back to tie the game at 27 midway through the fourth, which set up a wild finish. St. James wasn't able to take advantage of a few offensive opportunities, which opened the door for Blair Oaks down the stretch. The Lady Falcons then hit back to back threes and St. James trailed by as many as eight points with less than three minutes left to play. The Lady Tigers didn't back down, though, clawing back to within four points on a layup by Donnelly. After a pair of Blair Oaks free throws, Donnelly buried a three with six seconds left to cut the deficit to 40-37. Blair Oaks wasn't able to put the game away at the free throw line, but St. James couldn't get off a final three point attempt after some jump balls, falling by a final score of 40-37.
"I'm proud of the girls and they played and competed real hard," said head coach Terry Wells. "I thought we had fewer mental errors. Blair Oaks was just tougher than us down the stretch and made big shots and plays when needed."
Bullock led all scorers with 15 points in the loss, while adding four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Rinehart scored 11 points, while leading the team with six rebounds. She also had a steal and an assist. Donnelly had seven points and two boards. Savanna Riccetti had two points, three boards and a team-high three assists. Bailey Wells had two points, five rebounds, a steal and an assist.
Rolla will now look to take out Blair Oaks, as the two teams face off in the championship game, while St. James will face off with Fatima for third. The final day of games was originally slated to be Friday, but the games were moved up to Thursday due to weather concerns. St. James will play the third place game at 7:00, while Rolla will play the championship at 8:30.