Wartburg edges out Rockwood for a pair of wins

-A A +A
By The Staff

The Rockwood Tigers and Wartburg Bulldogs met for the final time in the regular season Friday night at Wartburg Central High School.

In keeping with just how tough the district is, both contests saw hard play, but Wartburg swept the evening.

In the night-cap, Wartburg was able to dictate the pace of the game early, beating Rockwood, 58-46.

“We were able to make some shots,” Bulldog Coach Joe Layne said. “I thought we were really patient and ran our offense well and made some shots which let us get into our press and let us run up and down the floor.”

The Tigers, usually known for a methodical pace to their basketball, started the game willing to match the Bulldogs’ uptempo style of play.

This proved to be in Wartburg’s favor as Rockwood couldn’t keep pace.

“Whoever controls the pace in a game usually wins,” Layne said. “If Rockwood can get us to play their tempo then they’re going to win.

“If we can get them to play our tempo then we’ll get the win.”

Scores by Dillon Fountain, Elijah Langley and Jake Branstetter kept the Bulldogs going and by the end of the first quarter, Wartburg had a comfortable 16-8 lead.

Tying to match the Bulldogs’ pace didn’t work for Rockwood in more than just the lead.

Hurried shots missed the mark or clanked off the rim along with turnovers resulting in Wartburg being able to set up its full court press.

The trend established in the opening quarter continued into the second.

The Bulldogs built on their 16 points and expanded their lead with 23 points scored in the second frame.

As the teams went into the locker rooms, Wartburg was well in the driver’s seat with a 39-18 lead.

With long-time Coach Paual Kamikawa at the helm, Rockwood was able to regroup at halftime.

“We couldn’t keep them playing at our pace in the second half,” Layne said. “We had a big enough lead though that it allowed us to win the game.”

The Tigers came out and as evidenced by their play, they were more focused in reversing the game in their favor.

The pace of the contest slowed, and Rockwood was able to get back into the game, but first half’s scoring by Wartburg just proved to be too much to overcome.

Fountain continued to lead the Bulldog attack and was joined by Kirk Harlan and Boone Davidson.

At the start of the final frame, Wartburg had a 48-28 lead.

Rockwood was able to cut the lead into single digits by going to the inside to Ryan McCain in the post.

With 3:03 left to play the Bulldogs were still in the lead, 53-46, but there was a real danger the Tigers could come back.

Fountain was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. The senior knocked down both charity tosses and it was enough to stop the momentum shift and got it back in Wartburg’s favor.

Rockwood resorted to fouls in a last-ditch effort to regain the ball, Harlan was sent to the line twice and finished in the closing seconds a perfect four-of-four for charity tosses to put the game out of reach.

Fountain led the Bulldogs with 14 points.

McCain scored 14 for Rockwood in the losing effort. Point guard Zander Price finished with 11 and Colton Nuckols had 10.

Rockwood (46) Price 11, Treadway 6, Brackett 5, Nuckols 10, Garrett 2, McCain 14.

Wartburg (58) Davidson 8, Harlan 5, Justes 8, Fountain 14, Langley 2, Constant 5, Branstetter 7. Barnette 9.

In the opening game of the evening, Wartburg was able to hold on for a 38-36 win against the Rockwood Lady Tigers.

“No one should be surprised Rockwood played us as close as they did tonight,” Wartburg Coach Jason Davis said. “In all honesty, Coach (Amy)Breazeale does a great job with her team.

“In the last four years, I think we’ve split with them every year, so it’s always competitive between us.”

The first half was a low-scoring affair with Rockwood leading 19-11 at the intermission.

The Lady Bulldogs battled back in the third quarter highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Callie Johnson and Madison Williams.

Karlee Bowling and Camryn Evans answered with scores for Rockwood, but Wartburg was able to regain the lead, 29-27, as the third ended.

“This is what district play is,” Davis said. “Teams become familiar with one another and know exactly what the other one runs.

“We were fortunate to get out of here with a win. I would have liked to have seen us put together two halves like the second one.”

Williams’ three as the third frame came to a close was the basket that saw the momentum shift as Wartburg gained the lead and didn’t lose afterwards.

The Lady Bulldogs took advantage of the change in fortunes and reeled off eight straight points before the Lady Tigers could react.

Bowling and Evans finally answered with scores of their own to make the score 37-31.

One more point by Wartburg coming from a foul shot by Makayla Poland gave just enough insurance.

Bowling and Evans combined to charge back into the game, but Bowling fouled out and Rockwood couldn’t complete the comeback.

Rockwood (36) Evans 17, Metcalfe 3, Bowling 8, Tilley 8.

Wartburg (38) Johnson 6, Holley 10, Hurtt 15, Poland 2, Williams 5.