The Rolla boys basketball team (17-8, 5-4 OC) wrapped up their regular season with a pair of games on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bulldogs first had a delayed game against Pacific, running away with a 60-39 win, before falling short against Waynesville 39-35 in their regular season finale.
The Bulldogs dominated the first half against Pacific on the way to a run away victory on Wednesday. Rolla got out of the gate with excellent defense, holding Pacific to just six points in the game's opening quarter. Trey Brown single-handedly outscored Pacific in the quarter, knocking down a three on the way to nine points in the quarter. Rolla went into the second with a 14-6 lead.
The momentum carried into the second. Defensively, Rolla stayed strong, holding Pacific to just nine points in the quarter. The Bulldogs then spread the ball around a bit more in the second, as Muluken Pritchett scored six points to go along with five more from Brown. The Bulldogs scored 15 points in the quarter to carry a 29-15 lead into the half.
The Bulldogs put the game away with another excellent quarter in the third. Rolla had their best offensive quarter in the third, scoring 17 points. Alec Buhr scored eight points in the quarter, while Brown added another five points. The Bulldogs kept their ferocious defense going after the half, holding Pacific to just eight points in the third to extend their lead to 46-23 going into the fourth. Pacific made a late push with 16 points in the fourth, but Rolla held on for a 60-39 win.
A total of 11 Bulldogs scored in the win led by 19 points from Brown. Buhr added another nine points, Pritchett had six, while Colby Shivers and Danny Foster each had five.
"We got out to a quick start on them early and never looked back," said head coach Mark Miller on the win. "Defensively, we were strong in the first half playing man and in the second half, our zone was pretty seedless. It was a good game for us."
Rolla followed the win with a physical matchup against Waynesville to close out the season. The Bulldogs struggled to get shots to fall, but still managed to hang around in a low-scoring game against their Ozark Conference rival.
Blaize Klossner helped Rolla stay afloat early, knocking down a three and scoring five points in the game's opening frame. Brown added another three, as the first quarter came to an end locked in a 14-14 tie.
After a quiet first quarter, the scoring dropped off completely in the second. Only two points were scored in the first four minutes of the quarter, which led to total of 11 points in the frame. Buhr finally got Rolla on the board with a free throw with 3:26 left to play, before a three from Pritchett gave the Bulldog their lone field goal with 2:35 left in the half. That three from Pritchett ended up being the last points of the quarter, as Waynesville carried a 21-18 lead into halftime.
Scoring continued to stay light after the break. Buhr opened the half with a put-back layup, before RJ Alfred gave Rolla a 22-21 lead with a bucket a minute into the quarter. The lead was traded twice for the rest of the quarter, before Pritchett knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 26 just before the end of the quarter.
Most of the fourth quarter was spent at the free throw line after Waynesville took the lead to open the final frame. The Tigers stretched their lead out to as many as six points late int he quarter, but a three from Klossner with 2:21 left to play kept the Bulldogs in the game, cutting the score to 36-33. Free throws from Buhr and Klossner cut the deficit to one with 1:44 left to play, but Rolla couldn't get the basket they needed, despite several missed free throws from Waynesville down the stretch. After two missed chances to win for Rolla, Tahja Stewart closed out the win for the Tigers by hitting three free throws down the stretch. Waynesville won by a final score of 39-35.
"We just didn't make shots," said coach Miller on the loss. "Our defense was solid, but we struggled in the paint and from the perimeter. We got good looks for the most part, just had trouble getting much to fall. I'm disappointed, because you always want to win on Senior Night, but we've already moved on and have our sights set on a District Championship."
Klossner led Rolla with 11 points in the loss, while Buhr added another 10. Pritchett chipped in with another five points, Alfred scored four, Brown had three and Trey Quick added two.
Rolla will travel to Union for Districts next week and will open with a first round bye after earning the top seed. They will play the winner between Salem and Union on Monday, Feb. 25. The Bulldogs have beaten Salem three times this season and beat Union 46-34 in their lone matchup.