Judging by the performance of Rock Bridge Wednesday in girls basketball action against Washington, it’s a wonder how it has lost three games this season.
The Lady Bruins jumped to a 19-0 lead and never looked back in a 77-38 Class 5 sectional victory over the Lady Jays at Camdenton High School.
Weapons were everywhere for Rock Bridge, a team with all five of its starters committed to Division I programs and ranging in height from 6-1 to 6-4.
“We tried to take their size away and were hoping they weren’t going to make any outside shots. It seemed like every kid for them hit a three,” said Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer. “When you play a team like that, with their size and their ability, it makes it tough. We took their inside game away, but they beat us with their outside game. Hat’s off to them. We picked our poison and maybe we picked the wrong one.”
Rock Bridge, the two-time defending Class 5 state champions are ranked in three national polls — MaxPreps (fifth), USA Today (11th) and ESPN (13th).
For the record, the Lady Bruins’ three losses this season have been to Incarnate Word and Tennessee schools Blackman and Riverdale.
Blackman currently is ranked first and Incarnate Word is second in the MaxPreps national poll.
“It’s silly to say that it’s hard to guard five kids when we have five kids out there, too,” Fischer said. “But no matter which way you looked at it, we had two 5-4 kids guarding 6-2 kids. We felt we had to play that sagging zone and they hit their outside shots.”
Washington (23-5) got on the scoreboard on a three-point play by Courtney Kedroski with 2:20 left in first quarter to make the score 19-3.
Rock Bridge jumped to a 14-0 lead in its district championship game against Hickman.
“We didn’t hit many shots in the first half. It could’ve been 19-6 or 19-9, which would have put a little more pressure on them and a little less off of us,” Fischer said. “We didn’t get going until two or three minutes left in the first quarter and I think it was 22-3 at that point.”
Rock Bridge (24-3) advances to Saturday’s Class 5 quarterfinals against Parkview (19-10) Saturday at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar at 6 p.m.
Kedroski, a senior, ended her WHS basketball career with 18 points in the game. She will go on to play softball and basketball at Fontbonne University.
Kyra Hardesty, a freshman, scored 11 points.
Paige Carpenter, a sophomore, added five points. Senior Megan Bauche and freshman Hana Young both had two points.
Seniors Rachel Kackley and Alex Ready, junior Megan Freitag and freshman Emma Boehmer also played before Fischer emptied his bench in the final minutes.
Junior Sophie Cunningham, a University of Missouri recruit, led the Lady Bruins with 18 points.
Senior Bri Porter (Mizzou) finished with 14 points. Seniors Chayla Cheadle (Kansas) and Kayla Cheadle both scored nine points. Junior Cierra Porter (Mizzou), senior Audrey Holt (Missouri State) and sophomore Brianna Ellis each had eight points.
“Their pressure didn’t bother us at all,” Fischer said. “Kyra did a pretty good job handling the pressure. We got good shots.”
Rock Bridge held leads of 24-3 after one quarter and 47-16 at halftime.
Washington played a competitive third quarter, outscored 23-20, and trailed 70-36 heading into the final eight minutes.
“We talked at halftime about having pride and playing for the name on our uniform,” Fischer said. “Our girls stuck with them in the third quarter. We went into the second half with the goal to outscore them or keep it even, keep it respectable. We showed that we have some talent.”
Hardesty scored seven quick points to open the second half. Kedroski nailed a pair of three-pointers and Carpenter added one three-point basket.
“When I told the girls that we had to attack the basket, they all kind of looked at me like, ‘What are we going to do when we get in there, coach?’ We just had to spread them out,” Fischer said. “Courtney did a good job. She got in there and got some layups. They sunk in and during the second half, we were able to kick it out and knock down some shots. We just got behind by too much. That happens sometimes against teams like that.”
It was a big year for the Lady Jays, who won 23 games and went unbeaten in the GAC Central.
The seniors were Kedroski, Kackley, Bauche and Ready.
“Our four seniors, three years ago when they were sophomores, they won six games. To go from six to 15 last year to 23 this year is impressive. That tells you that they put a lot of time in the gym,” Fisher said. “All the credit goes to the kids. I just scream and yell and get them to work harder. They have to go out there and do it, so the credit goes to those girls.
“Every one of those players in the locker room, especially the seniors, are like my kids to me. I can see knowing them for the rest of my life, which makes it special. Those kids have a spot in my heart and a spot in this program’s heart. I’m super proud of all of them.”