Lady Bruins drop season opener to Blackman


Sophomores Sophie Cunningham (left) and Cierra Porter watch from the sidelines at the RBHS girls basketball game against Blue Springs Sunday. Photo by Asa Lory

Brayden Parker

[heading](No. 3) Blackman (TN) 50, (No. 12) Rock Bridge 48[/heading] With one final night before their season began, the Lady Bruins basketball squad sat in the visitor stands of the Edward R Jones Dome in St. Louis to join their school and cheer on the RBHS football team, playing in the MSHSAA Class 6 State Championship. The  basketball team, a group with back-to-back state championships in their respective sport, knows all about the state championship, of which they will strive for again this season, and detoured their season opening trip to the Tennessee Turkey Jamm with a stop to help bring home a new state title to Columbia.
“This was a great opportunity for the football team and for Rock Bridge, so we just wanted to come support,” senior forward Mubinah Khaleel said. “It was great…that our coach made it that we could stop and watch.”
Yet with the Bruin football season ending in a 35-14 lost to Blue Springs on Friday night the girls basketball team made the six hour trip to Murfreesboro, TN to kick-off their quest for a third consecutive state crown and RBHS faced stiff competition to begin that journey. Ranked No. 12 in the nation by Maxpreps, the Lady Bruins squared up against the No. 3 ranked team, and tournament host, Blackman High School (4-0).
Although the marquee match-up posed for a potential distraction, the Lady Bruins subdued any nerves and jumped out to fast start, commanding the first quarter and leaving the opening period with a 15-11 lead.
“We try to go into every game not thinking about rankings because honestly rankings mean nothing,” senior captain Chayla Cheadle said. “So yeah, they have a number in front of them but we also have a really good team. We prepared for them like any other team we play.”
This confidence continued into the second quarter as the Bruins went into halftime with a solid 30-20 lead. Coming out of the break, the Blackman Blaze started making necessary shots and attacked the weaknesses of the RBHS defense. A few mistakes on the defensive side of the floor for the Bruins gave the Blaze a 38-35 lead at the end of the third quarter, however the Bruins kept making plays and stayed with Blackman through the end of the game.
“For our first game I was really proud of us. We came out hard and strong,” Cheadle said. “A few things didn’t go our way and there were mistakes, but nothing we can’t fix.”
Following a three pointer from senior Laurie Frew with 1:40 left to pull the Lady Bruins withing two, RBHS and Blackman exchanged baskets once again and RBHS found themselves with the ball at mid-court with 15 seconds remaining. The game winner at the buzzer however rimmed out leaving the Bruins (0-1)  just short of the upset. Despite the loss the team will have another shot at another nationally ranked opponent as they take on No. 6 Riverdale (TN) High School at 3pm.
“We talked about tonight’s loss, but we all know that tomorrow is a new day,” Cheadle said. “We’ll learn from tonight’s mistakes and come together and use this loss to motivate us tomorrow.”
By Brayden Parker