Rock Bridge shows off in finale of Norm Stewart Classic

AP

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Twenty-three games had already been played in the 2018 Norm Stewart Classic, occupying the Columbia College gym for 46 straight hours of basketball. The 24th and final game, occupying the 4 p.m. time slot on Sunday, pitted Rock Bridge against Raytown South.

The fans who stuck around were in for a treat. They got the chance to watch Rock Bridge senior Isiaih Mosley show off his dominance. Behind 32 points from Mosley and an 11-0 run to close the first half, Rock Bridge pounded Raytown South 74-41.

After a third-place finish in the Troy Tournament to open the season, Rock Bridge (3-1) played Sunday knowing it won’t play in Columbia again for another two weeks. Despite playing away from the confines of their home gym, the Bruins were extremely comfortable on Columbia College’s home floor.

The Bruins shot nearly 60 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers. Three consecutive three-pointers from Raytown South (0-1) had cut a double-digit deficit to four in the second quarter, but the Bruins turned up the pressure, utilizing a 12-0 run to take a 40-24 lead into the half.

“With our press and our active man (defense), which I liked once we got going, we got some points in a flurry and kind of suffocated them a little bit defensively,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said.

Raytown South shot just 34 percent from the field, and struggled to move the ball on offense. The Cardinals had just three assists compared to the Bruins' 12.

“If a team is scouting us, they can’t be like, ‘Oh this person is going to score and do everything,’” Mosley said. “They have to focus on the whole team because everybody does everything.”

Both coaches probably would have preferred a prettier brand of basketball to be played in the third quarter, as the teams kept giving the ball away to each other. But the Bruins started heating up from distance.

A Noah Patrick three-pointer pushed the lead to 51-30 with four minutes left in the quarter, but Rock Bridge saved its most impressive run for the fourth quarter.

The Bruins went on a 16-0 run that featured a highlight-reel dunk from Mosley, making for an easy video editing job for the promoters of the Norm Stewart Classic highlight reel.

“It does a lot for our confidence because we had our downfall at Troy, and we were really looking to get back into things,” Mosley said. “It feels good because we know when we play better teams down the road that we’re going to have to get into our spreads faster and get into the offense.”

Rock Bridge held the Cardinals to just six fourth-quarter points to earn the 33-point win, showing Scanlon flashes of what his team is capable of. The Bruins, he cautioned, are not close to being where he wants them to be.

“We’ve got a long way to go, and I’m seeing some positives along with a few negatives,” Scanlon said. “We’re not a finished product, and my son (Bruins assistant coach Blair Scanlon) said if we were a finished product right now, that’s not a good thing.”

The Bruins will return to their fine-tuning in practice for the better part of two weeks before traveling to face the Miller Career Academy in St. Louis on Thursday, Dec. 13. They will have to wait until Dec. 18 to play in Columbia again, when they will take on rival Battle.

Although the Bruins will have to do some waiting before playing at home, they’ve made it clear through their first four games that they will be comfortable on the floor, wherever it may be.

Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.

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