ROLLA — Once again, it appears the Rolla Bulldogs are poised to work its way into the top of the Ozark Conference.
The program has put together quite a run in recent years under head coach Mark Miller, placing second in the league and going 24-3 in 2015-16, and winning the league and going 26-3 in 2014-15.
Last year, Rolla came back to the pack a little, going 15-12 overall and 5-4 in the league, but on Saturday, they showed they will be a force in area basketball as the Bulldogs ran away with its season opener 58-37 against a Rogersville team that also has high expectations.
“I was very pleased and I thought our effort defensively and on the boards was really strong,” Miller said. “This is a good basketball team, the Rogersville team, and they are well coached. I felt like we were tough to score against and offensively we attacked their defense well, found the open shooters and knocked down the 3 and finished at the basket and made some free throws.”
Rolla has several players taking on new roles this season, but has plenty of depth and talent across several classes.
The Bulldogs are led by senior Josh Pritchett, a 6’4 guard who is a three-year varsity regular. He took his game to new heights last season and will be counted on for production this year. Also the quarterback for the Rolla football team, Pritchett is coming off a standout fall on the gridiron.
Coby Martin, a 5’11 junior guard, was in attack mode on Saturday and took it to the basket. He finished in double figures on Saturday.
“He attacks the defense very well and is hard to guard off the dribble and shoots from the perimeter very well,” Miller said.
Alex Buhr took a tough spill early in the game, but played through the injury and hardly came out of the game until late.
“He is just a solid all-around player for us,” Miller said.
Also getting key varsity time was xx and xx who filled in for players who got in early foul trouble.
“I didn’t feel like we missed a beat when those guys were out there,” Miller said.
Miller said he was impressed with the Bulldogs’ efforts at the defensive end of the court as they held Rogersville under 40 points.
“That’s not easy to do,” Miller said. “They have some quality perimeter players and they are really solid at the bigs and they know how to play and the coach that they have (John Schaefer) has won some state championships. He knows what he is doing.
“I was really pleased with our defense and I was also pleased with our rebounding and our offense as well.”
Miller said the Bulldogs still need to focus on being active in its four-out offense.
“There are times when we stand and watch the ball handler, and we will work on that,” Miller said. It is kind of constant thing for us and we’ll work on getting better at that.”
Miller said he was also concerned with the Bulldogs’ traps as they were often caught reaching and picked up cheap fouls.
“We like to trap the basketball, but we don’t want to reach there, we want to keep moving our feet and see the next pass,” he said. “We fouled a little too much in the first half, but did a nice job of not doing that in the second half.