COLUMBIA — Deep within Mizzou Arena, Rockhurst seniors Kyle Wolf and Bradley Wilkins walked the length of a hallway to the Hawklets’ locker room.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Neither spoke initially, but their excitement was reflected by the pace in their steps. Wolf placed his hands on his head, then shook it from side to side as he smiled.
Finally, Wilkins broke the silence.
“Believe that?” Wilkins asked Wolf.
“That fourth quarter,” Wolf responded, still shaking his head. “That was huge.”
You could say that.
After trailing for the first three quarters, Rockhurst erupted for 18 straight points that snowballed into a 67-59 victory against Columbia Hickman in the Missouri Class 5 semifinals. In search of the first state title since 1989 and the fourth in school history, Rockhurst will face De Smet at 6:40 p.m. Saturday for the Class 5 championship.
The latest step in the journey to the finals is one the Hawklets will remember. And with good reason.
After watching Hickman, 26-3, take a 12-point lead behind the hot shooting of sophomore Jimmy Whitt, who finished with 21 points, Wolf and teammate Michael Jones took over the game.
Using a play designed by coach Mark Nusbaum, Wolf opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Jones followed with another three. Then Wolf. And finally Jones once more.
“Coach told us before that fourth quarter to just refuse to lose the game,” recalled Jones, who scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. “I felt like that’s what we went out there to do. Once the shots started falling, they wouldn’t stop.”
By the time the damage was done, Rockhurst had scored 18 consecutive points and turned a 12-point deficit into a six-point lead — the Hawklets’ first advantage of the game.
They never trailed in the final four minutes.
“We were just living right,” Nusbaum said with a smile.
The championship game will provide a familiar opponent for Rockhurst, which defeated De Smet 75-66 on Jan. 31.
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