RBHS basketball begins season, direct sights at upcoming matchups


Junior guard Payton McCallister leaps for a layup in a game earlier in the season. Photo by Ty Jamieson

Ji-Ho Lee

[heading size=”11″]Bruins tip off season, face Spartans [/heading] Before the first shot, dribble or pass, the boys’ basketball season was highly anticipated. Entering the year as the second ranked team in the state, the young but talented group had lots of expectations.
“I was happy for the guys, but it doesn’t mean a thing,” head coach Jim Scanlon said about the preseason ranking. “It doesn’t win us any games and it doesn’t make us any better. We have a lot of work to do. The guys know they have a lot of work to do, but there’s no pressure on us. We just have to get out everyday and practice and get better.”
The Bruins tipped off the season in the Troy Tournament, cruising to the championship game by defeating Hannibal and Troy-Buchanan, 76-37 and 81-51, respectively. The Bruins then beat Francis Howell, 67-52, to win the championship. Defense propelled the Bruins to success early in the season.
“I think we’ve been pretty good defensively so far,” senior guard Justin Hajicek said. “There’s plenty of room to improve, but we’ve done a good job so far of pressing and forcing other teams to play at a pace that is faster than what they’re comfortable with playing. We’re also pretty deep, which allows us to play like that.”
The following game, however, RBHS fell to Christian Brothers College (CBC), 60-53.
“The CBC game was a really competitive game,” sophomore guard Ja’Monta Black said. “They got the best of us because they played better defense. But now we just have to move past that loss, soak it in, clean up our mistakes and take out our anger on the next team.”
After losses against Miller Career Academy and Booker T. Washington (Okla.), 60-59 and 69-62 respectively, the Bruins are prepared to overcome their current troubles.
“Our biggest focus is executing on both ends of the floor,” Hajicek said. “DeSmet is a solid team, but once we get the little things smoothed out, I like our chances to be successful.”
[heading size=”11″]Lady Bruins form new chemistry, seek districts [/heading] The girls’ basketball team has established itself as a competitive team in the state of Missouri, winning four consecutive state championships from 2011 to 2015. The team hopes to return to that level of success this season.
The team went 1-1 in its first weekend, dropping the season opener to Kirkwood, 55-45, and defeating St. Joseph’s Academy, 57-51. The Lady Bruins handily defeated Waynesville in their following game, 74-51, in the Norm Stewart Classic.
The team went on to go 2-0 in their next two games with two dominating victories. Senior point guard and University of Missouri commit Elle Brown attributed much of the team’s success, led by head coach Jill Nagel and the rest of the staff, to the strong chemistry.
“This team is crazy awesome … I feel like we’re always together,” Brown, who transferred from Johnston High School in Iowa, said. “That bond helps on the floor too. We are all starting to pick up on each other’s tendencies and it looks really good. And we are a pretty quick team, so whenever we push the ball up the floor we typically can score off the fast break and it’s exciting.”
Junior guard Katey Klucking agrees with her frontcourt counterpart, citing the team’s chemistry, as well as shooting and strong defense, as an important strength. Nevertheless, Klucking believes the team can still improve.
“We have to practice with the intensity that we would have in a game, and just continue to show up to practice with the goal and mindset of getting better,” Klucking said. “We know that if we keep working hard, the results will come.”
For Nagel, those results are grounded in the team’s success, both in the near and distant future.
“We set goals that are specific to games as well as season-long so that way we can stay on track during a game as well as throughout the season,” Nagel said. “Probably the biggest long-term [goal] is to win districts since we didn’t do that last year, and we are going to set smaller goals to help us get to that district goal.”
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