Rolla’s big first half was just enough to earn the Class 4 District 9 boys basketball championship Friday in Union, 54-49.

The Bulldogs (12-16) will play in their hometown for Tuesday’s sectional game against Helias (20-6). That game, at Missouri S&T, tips off Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.

It’s the second meeting of the season between the teams. Helias beat Rolla Feb. 20, 62-47.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs jumped out to a huge lead against No. 2 Salem (13-14), gaining a 20-point advantage with five minutes to go in the second quarter.

Rolla led 17-4 after eight minutes and 36-17 at the half. 

However, Rolla struggled to find the basket on the other end.

Meanwhile, Salem was chipping away at the lead. Rolla’s advantage eroded to seven points, 41-34, through three quarters.

It got even closer in the fourth quarter.

Senior Reese Dodson scored off of a steal and then hit a three-point shot to cut it to 50-49 with 58.7 seconds to play.

However, that proved to be Salem’s final basket. Rolla knocked down four of six free throws through the rest of the game to survive, 54-49.

Rolla hit seven three-point baskets, all in the first half.

The Bulldogs went 13-26 from the free-throw line.

Junior Danny Foster led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points. That included three three-point baskets.

Senior Muluken Pritchett was next with 12 points, including three three-point baskets.

Senior Colby Shivers scored 10 points while going 6-12 from the free-throw line.

Sophomores Gage Klossner and Ty Locklear scored five points apiece.

Junior Trey Brown added four points while senior Jack Hounsom contributed two points.

For Salem, Dodson led the way with 19 points, including three of the team’s four three-point baskets.

Junior Braiden Carmack was next with 11 points.

Senior Carter Chilton scored nine points.

Junior Lucas Morrison was next with eight points.

Sophomore Garrett Connell posted two points.

Salem went 1-4 from the free-throw line.