By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In what looked to be a Rolla runaway, Tuesday night’s game with Parkview turned out to be anything but.
Trailing by 12 at halftime, Parkview stormed back in the second half before Rolla put away the Vikings in overtime for a 55-49 Ozark Conference victory.
Rolla’s zone caused problems for Parkview in the first half, as the Vikings struggled not only in getting shot opportunities, but in making shots when they had open looks. Led by Trey Brown (8 points) and Alec Buhr (7 points), the Bulldogs raced to a 24-12 lead at the break.
“Our guys did a really nice job playing defense that first half and worked very hard,” Rolla coach Mark Miller said. “But, I was also really pleased with how we boarded against a strong, physical team.”
Coming out of halftime, Parkview picked up its defensive pressure and quickened the tempo on offense.
“They (Parkview) got it figured out in the second half,” Miller said of his team’s zone. “This is a good basketball team. I know they lost a big man (Tyem Freeman) to what they do, but they’ve still got a whole lot of pieces and are a very fine club. We’re just thankful to get out of Parkview with a win.”
Parkview coach Landon Cornish agreed that the first half was a struggle, and that the Vikings needed to play their game in the second half in order to have a chance to get back in the game.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well to start the game, obviously,” Cornish said. “We were 1-for-5 from the 3-point line at the very beginning there in the first quarter and being really passive and just trying to shoot our way through it, instead of moving the ball and actually attacking the basket.
“At halftime, I basically said, ‘We’re going to pick up and try to speed things up a lot more,’ and we went a lot smaller to try to speed things up and get baskets in transition. Obviously, the zone wasn’t going anywhere, that was going to be stuck. So, once we got the game sped up and moving along, that’s when we were able to kind of get back into it.”
Out of the gate, Buhr hit a layup to put the Bulldogs up 26-12 in the third quarter, before Parkview’s Dontae Taylor scored on a putback (26-14). After a turnover-filled few minutes, Taylor made back-to-back baskets to complete his own 6-0 run to pull the Vikings with eight points (26-18) – their first time to trail by fewer than double-digits since midway through the first quarter.
Rolla went back up by 10 (30-20) when Parkview got a much-needed spark from freshman Elijah Whitley.
Whitley scored on a putback, picked up a steal out the Vikings’ press and assisted on Taylor’s traditional three-point play to pull Parkview within five points (30-25) with 48 seconds to go in the third quarter.
“That was really his first varsity game,” Cornish said. “He’s been a really good junior varsity player all year long, and we’ve been starting to think that maybe we need to get him a little bit more action, as we have some guys battling sickness and injuries.
“It’s a different roster, and as he’s grown and just continued to get better and better, he had some opportunities tonight and, I think he took full advantage of them. I was really, really impressed and proud of the way he played tonight, and that’s going to help us out moving forward.”
Taylor scored on a spin move as the Vikings closed out the quarter, trailing 30-27, and outscoring Rolla 15-6.
Anthony Green hit a turnaround jumper (30-29), grabbed a huge rebound and was fouled to open the fourth quarter. He hit the first of a one-and-one opportunity to tie the game for the first time (30-30) since early in the first quarter (5-5).
Muluken Pritchett made a 3-pointer from the wing for Rolla and Nakai Johnson answered with a 3 from the baseline to tie it again (33-33). From there on out, it was back and forth until Blaize Klossner hit a 3 to put Rolla up 43-41 with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation.
Parkview wasn’t finished as Taylor went coast-to-coast to score on a layup to tie the game at 43 with 5.2 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
“We just really needed to get the game flowing and be aggressive there,” Cornish said. “After (Rolla) got that basket to go up, I just kind of looked at (Taylor) and said, ‘Go.’ They were kind of running back in transition and that was going to be our best chance of him just being aggressive and just going and getting it.
“Obviously, with them being up two, they didn’t want to foul him and I don’t think they were quite set up. That’s kind of something we tell him, he and I, is just ‘Go,’ and he just got it and made a good play. That was just a heads-up play by him.”
In the overtime session, the Bulldogs outscored the Vikings 12-6, hitting 6 of 8 free throws.
“We’ve got a lot of shooters,” Miller said. “It’s hard to defend as many shooters as we have, and our guys do a good job of sharing the basketball. They did a good job of that tonight. I felt like they were looking for their teammates. We have guys who do certain roles and we’ve got some guys who are attackers and they did a fine job of that. All in all, just a really fine team win against a good Parkview team.”
Rolla’s 12 points in overtime came from Buhr and Klossner.
“Those are our two captains,” Miller said. “They show great leadership all the time for us. They maintained their composure down the stretch when things weren’t looking real good for us, and I love the way we overcame some adversity tonight and finished off the game very well.”
Rolla had three players score in double figures, led by Buhr with 16, Klossner with 11 and Brown adding 10. With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 15-5 overall and 4-1 in the OC.
Taylor led all scorers with 26 points for Parkview, which fell to 11-10 and 3-3.
Ozark Conference game
ROLLA 55, PARKVIEW 49 (OT)
ROLLA (15-5, 4-1) – Muluken Pritchett 6, Blaize Klossner 11, Alec Buhr 16, Trey Brown 10, Trey Quick 8, Danny Foster 4.
PARKVIEW (11-10, 3-3) – Nakai Johnson 3, Anthony Green 6, Dontae Taylor 26, Jevin Huddleston 2, Latre Morrison 8, Xzameion Beal 2, Elijah Whitley 2.
Parkview B 45, Rolla B 44 (OT)