By Taylor Eldridge
Final — Rock Bridge 75, Heights 70
Just not enough offense toward the end for Heights. They lose by five, but they were the better team for the majority of the game. But that’s not what counts, it’s for all 32 minutes. Rock Bridge was just too much. I would have loved to seen what the Falcons could have done with Evan Wessel out there on the floor. I’ll have another Inside The Game post for those interested later tonight.
But real quick, to review, here’s how Heights accomplished the three tasks I thought were crucial for them in the second half.
1. Get Perry Ellis more involved
He scored 11 second-half points, sure, but he never was dominant. Rock Bridge simply had the height to handle him tonight and there were times he played too passively. But he is only a sophomore too, you have to remember that. He showed off some of his skills tonight, but he scored a quiet 20 points.
2. They have to make at least five more three-pointers
They made zero. They attempted three. True, they were able to get to the rim better the second half, but then again the three’s were what pushed their lead out in the first half. They needed more production from the perimeter to stay in this game.
3. Keep Kreklow from blowing up
They kept him from blowing up – he still scored 13 second-half points – but they left him open twice and he made them pay twice.
0:31 left, 4th quarter — Rock Bridge 74, Heights 67
Heights gets a stop and then Perry Ellis got fouled and missed what looked to be a pretty easy and-one. That could have drawn the Falcons to within four points, but instead Ellis is at the line with 31 seconds left with a chance to cut the lead to five.
1:21 left, 4th quarter — Rock Bridge 71, Heights 64
Rock Bridge chewed off a bunch of time with its last possession and then ended it with an easy lay-up. Not what Heights wanted, but Dreamius Smith scored quickly on the other end and cut it back to 7 points. The Falcons will have to have the Bruins miss some free throws and some quick offense. It’s doable, but looking unlikely.
3:02 left, 4th quarter — Rock Bridge 69, Heights 62
Heights’ press is speeding up the tempo, but it’s also leaving Rock Bridge’s shooters wide open. Justin Miller nails another three and the Falcons are going to have to start forcing some turnovers to get back in this game.
4:35 left, 4th quarter — Rock Bridge 66, Heights 58
There goes Rock Bridge. Heights didn’t respond well. They turned the ball over twice and are struggling to guard the Bruins in transition. That left Kreklow wide open in transition and he nailed it and then Matt Kelly just drained another one – wide open – in transition to push the lead up to eight points. Auer calls another timeout.
We’ll see how tough Heights is here. They desperately need some offense.
6:10 left, 4th quarter — Rock Bridge 58, Heights 56
A little background on Rock Bridge real quick. They finished last season 27-3 in Missouri’s largest classification. They lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions by one point and then went on to win the third place. So yeah, they’re pretty dang good.
And they’re showing it right now by pulling the game to a tie, and then finally taking its first lead since 9-8 in the first quarter. Auer calls a quick timeout and we’ll see how Heights responds.
End of 3 quarters — Heights 54, Rock Bridge 52
Sorry for the lack of updates, but there were seriously no stoppages in the quarter. No time-outs, nothing. This game is going by fast.
The third quarter had plenty of action though. Rock Bridge made a run, tying the score at 50 on a Kreklow fadeaway jumper. He’s so tough to stop. He added five more points in the quarter, but the rest of Rock Bridge started to chip in.
Heights’ Perry Ellis was a little more assertive, finishing the quarter with three baskets and two more free throws. Right now it’s looking like it’s going to come down to the last shot. Rock Bridge isn’t going away and neither is Heights.
Heights has kept control of this game pretty well so far. Let’s see if they can for eight more minutes.
Halftime — Heights 35, Rock Bridge 28
OK, I did some research on Rock Bridge and they are 4-1 on the season and are one of the top teams in Missouri. They average close to 90 points a game and its 6-foot-6 senior guard Ricky Kreklow is a Missouri commit. I believe it, the kid is the real deal. He has made several off-balanced shots and won a head-on battle with Perry Ellis. He has 12 points right now.
But the story is Heights’ defense so far. They aren’t exactly playing stellar, but they are not allowing Rock Bridge to get out in its run-n-gun offense. Holding a team of this caliber to 28 points at half is very impressive. They’ve forced six turnovers so far.
On offense, it remains the same challenge for Joe Auer and Co. If Heights is going to win this game, they are going to have to make outside shots. So far, they are making enough to keep the Bruins honest. Heights is 5-of-12 beyond the arc, with E.J. Dobbins making three of those. He had a buzzer-beater right before both quarters.
Walking off the court, Auer was interviewed by a tv station here in Kansas City and he didn’t look too happy. Then again, what coach looks happy during a game. There’s always room for improvement I’m sure he’s thinking, but he has to be pleased with a 7-point halftime cushion.
For Heights to win this in the second half, they have to get Perry Ellis more involved (Ellis is 4-of-8 for 9 points and 2 rebounds), they have to make at least five more three-pointers and they have to contain Kreklow from blowing up. We’re a minute away from the start of the second half, so let’s find out how the best of Kansas stacks up with the best of Missouri.
2:51 left, 2nd quarter — Heights 27, Rock Bridge 24
This game is being played pretty clean. Only five fouls so far and three free throw attempts. Just the way I like it. CBR is still packing it in and forcing Heights to shoot from the outside. Neither team has really pieced together a serious run, but I expect this game to be pretty competitive all the way through.
5:25 left, 2nd quarter — Heights 22, Rock Bridge 20
Rock Bridge making a nice run right now. A 6-0 run brings the score to 22-20. Kreklow is the real deal. He can shoot off-balanced and he is making some real nice shots right now. He had an acrobatic lay-up where he went around Perry Ellis for the lay-in.
Rock Bridge is packing it in right now against the Falcons and daring them to shoot from the outside. Right now, it’s working. Heights has plenty of airballs and is shooting 3-of-10 from the three-point line right now.
End of 1st — Heights 20, Rock Bridge 14
I’m impressed with Rock Bridge’s size. They have seven players listed at 6-foot-4 or taller. So far that’s not really playing much into the game. They have a big time shooter in Ricky Krelow and he has drained two three’s so far, but Heights has controlled much of the game so far.
Heights ended the quarter on a nice 12-5 run, capped by an amazing E.J. Dobbins three right as time expired. Krelow just had hit his second three and Heights inbounded with three seconds left. Dobbins reached halfcourt and let fly a shot that swished through for the 6-point lead.
Perry Ellis hasn’t made too much noise. Rock Bridge has 6-foot-7 Logan Parks matched up with him and he’s doing a fairly good job of shutting him down. They have alternated between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man. But so far, only 5 points and 1 rebound for Perry.
6:01 remaining, 1st quarter: Rock Bridge 4, Heights 3
Rock Bridge has some serious size. Their front line is 6-foot-6, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-7. They match up pretty interesting with the Falcons. So far Heights hasn’t been able to get much going on offense, but I expect that to change. Auer called a quick timeout to right the ship.
I’m coming to you live from Kansas City, Missouri at Avila University in the 15th Hyvee Shootout, pitting Kansas vs. Missouri in high school basketball. A great event, which surprisingly has yet to include a Wichita school until now.
Heights, arguably the state’s best team, will tip off against Rock Bridge Bruins from Columbia. Heights is dressed sharply in its road blacks and CRB is white in green and yellow trim. I’m about to do some research to find out just how good this team is, but from what I’ve heard they are one of the better teams in Missouri.
Should be interesting. Keep checking back here for updates. I can tell you this, though, everyone in the building is keeping an eye on Perry Ellis.