Rock Bridge Battles Back for Back-To-Back Basketball State Championships
COLUMBIA- In the first half Rock Bridge shot just 30 percent, while St. Joseph's was red hot and shot 50 percent and led by 10 at half.
"We just said inch by inch life's a cinch and there's no 10 point baskets in the game of basketball and we're going to have to take this step by step," said Rock Bridge basketball coach Jill Nagel.
Rock Bridge's star sophomore Sophie Cunningham said the Rock Bridge bench made the difference.
"Without them we can't do it," Cunningham said. "They support us when we're up and when we're down. Honestly that's what really helped us get back in that game and it helped us believe in ourselves."
Cunningham herself was the key in the comeback--she was scoreless in the first half, but poured in 16 huge points in the second half.
"My teammates and coaches," Cunningham said. "They knew I was kind of down and they could see it, but they all told me they had faith in me and they believed in me and that honestly is what got me going and I just wanted to do it for them."
Rock Bridge outscored St. Joe's by 17 in the second half and lead by 7 with 11 seconds to go, and that allowed for a special moment. Senior captain Hannah Dressler suffered an injury earlier in the season and did not participate in Rock Bridge's state run, but with the safe lead Dressler stepped on the court one final time.
"And I also have to say huge thanks to St. Joseph's Academy and their coaches for making that happen because they knew that was something that we wanted to have happen without even saying anything and they're actually the ones that yelled down and said get Hannah in," Nagel said.
"And young women who are playing this game because they love playing basketball and nothing else other than enjoying a wonderful time with their teammates and representing their schools," said St. Joseph's Basketball Coach Julie Matheny.
Cunningham, Porter, and Cheadle were the three leading scorers in the championship game, and all three will be back next season looking for the three-peat.