Only two teams remain with a chance to stop Rolla in the Class 4 District 10 basketball tournaments.
Rolla, seeded No. 1 in both the boys and girls brackets, will attempt to make it a sweep of the district championships Friday in Union.
To do so, the Rolla boys (18-8) will have to go through No. 3 Sullivan (21-6) and the Rolla girls (22-3) will be tasked with taking on the No. 6 Owensville Dutchgirls (16-11).
Both of Rolla’s opponents have had to upset a Four Rivers Conference Champion team in order to reach the championship round.
The Sullivan boys avenged a previous loss to Union on their home floor earlier in the season by knocking off the district host Tuesday in the semifinals. Union went 7-0 in conference play during the regular season.
The Dutchgirls, the lowest seed in the girls bracket, could be the last one standing. Owensville already went through conference co-champion Sullivan’s girls in the first round and then got revenge for not one, but two previous losses against St. Clair in the semifinals.
The Eagles capitalized on a big run in the second quarter against Union in the semifinals before slowing things down in the second half, shutting the Wildcats out in the third quarter with the exception of a three-point shot at the buzzer by senior Trevor Kelly.
However, Sullivan’s defense will be tested by a Rolla team that has only been held below 40 points once this year and has scored above 50 points in all but seven games. Four times the Bulldogs have topped 70 points, including a high of 90 points against Springfield Catholic and an 81-79 win in two overtimes against Glendale.
“We’re going to have to play one of our best games all year,” Sullivan Head Coach Dino McKinney said after Tuesday’s win. “They’re good. They will give us problems inside just like everybody does. We’ll just have to be ready for it. We’ve got a couple of days to throw something together.”
Alec Buhr, a 6-2 senior guard, was the primary scoring weapon for Rolla in Tuesday’s semifinal win over St. Clair, scoring 25 points.
Sullivan did the bulk of its damage against Union either from three-point range or from the free-throw line.
Against the top-seeded Bulldogs, St. Clair had most of its offensive success going inside. St. Clair received 18 free-throw opportunities in the game and connected just twice on three-point attempts — both made by senior Timmy Hoffman in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles have turned to a pair of senior guards, Cody McKinney (20.4 points per game) and Landon Hoffman (13.7) for most of their scoring this season. However, the latter of the two may be limited after sustaining a lower-back injury late in the second quarter against Union and playing a smaller role in the second half.
Senior forward Breanna Diestelkamp played a key role in the Dutchgirls knocking off both Sullivan and St. Clair in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Diestelkamp put through 17 points in the first round to help beat the Lady Eagles, and then exceeded that effort with 26 points in the semifinals to defeat the No. 2 Lady Bulldogs.
The lowest point total in a game for Diestelkamp this season has been 10. On four occasions she has scored 30 points or more — 37 against Tolton Catholic, 34 against Salem, 31 versus Montgomery County and 39 against Battle.
She will have to be a focal point of the Rolla defensive effort, which could open things up more for guards Anna Finley and Liana Miller, who both average more than 10 points per game in their own right.
However, the Rolla girls have been a powerhouse all season. Sullivan was able to score a victory against the Lady Bulldogs, 51-42, but it was all the way back in the second game of the year on Nov. 20 and was on Sullivan’s home floor.
Rolla’s second loss was on the road at Jefferson City just six days later. Since that time, Jefferson City has amassed a 25-1 record and stands as one of the top contenders for a Class 5 state title.
Rolla then went on an 18-game winning streak before taking one last regular season loss on Feb. 11, again on the road against one of the top teams in Class 5, Kickapoo (21-6).
Of Rolla’s opponents this season, only six teams do not have a winning record at the end of the season.
The Lady Bulldogs average 59.9 points per game as a team with the scoring pretty evenly distributed among five players in the range of 8-12 points per night. The leader is junior Ellie Rodgers (11.8 points per game), but freshman Savannah Campbell (10.1), freshman Carli Libhart (8.9), junior Loran Pritchett (8.8) and junior Rebecca Janke (8.1) are all not far behind.
The girls championship is scheduled to tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 7 p.m.