Smith-Cotton battled all the way to the end, but Rock Bridge had too much firepower to overcome as the Bruins advanced to the Class 5, District 9 final with an 81-57 win over the Tigers Tuesday night in the S-C gym.
Trailing 46-27 at the half, S-C ran off eight consecutive points to start the third quarter, bringing life to the home-court crowd. Rock Bridge freshman guard Ben Cooper drained a three-pointer to break the string, but the Tigers kept pounding away. Senior Dante Scroggins swished a deep three to cut the Bruins’ lead to single digits, 59-50, with 6:47 to play in the game. After a Rock Bridge timeout and missed shot, S-C junior Gavin Jones’s driving basket made it 59-52. But that was as close as the Tigers would get.
Cooper again responded, scoring on a backscreen cut to the basket on an inbounds play, then again on a baseline drive to push the Bruins lead back to 63-52. The Tigers began fouling to stop the clock, but Rock Bridge was effective enough at the free-throw line (11 of 16 in the fourth quarter) to extend its lead.
A barrage of three-pointers kept the Tigers close at the start of the game, but Cooper provided answers for the Bruins. Rock Bridge senior forward Tre Williams scored eight of his 11 points in the first quarter, and he and Cooper provided an effective inside-outside attack for the Bruins.
Cooper led all scorers with 23 points; teammate Isiaih Mosley added 16 points off the bench. Jones led the Tigers with 19 points and two assists. Scroggins had 15 and four rebounds, with junior Tanner Powell pitching in with 12 points and four rebounds.
S-C closed its season with a 19-8 record. Rock Bridge (20-6) will play the winner of Blue Springs and Blue Springs South for the district title at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in the S-C gym.