Norton injured as Rock Bridge downs Helias

It was basically a perfect second half for the Rock Bridge Bruins — except for one huge play.

The Bruins took a game tied at 26 at halftime and broke it wide open after intermission, cruising to a 71-51 win against the Helias Crusaders.

The only downside came with 3 1/2 minutes left in the game when standout junior guard Nick Norton — who has committed to Creighton University — suffered an injury to his right knee.

Norton had to be helped off the court and the knee was heavily wrapped after the game.

“We don’t know what it is,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “This happened to him last year, kind of the same type of deal at Rockhurst, only I think it was the other leg. There’s nothing you can do. It just happened, we hope he’s OK, but we’ll find out more (today).”

After scoring just 26 points in the entire first half, the Bruins effectively ended the game with a 25-point third quarter.

Rock Bridge started the third quarter with a 13-2 run — Norton had nine of those points — to blitz Helias.

“In the second half, their guard play was just too much for us to handle,” Helias coach Josh Buffington said. “They were smart with the ball, they were attacking us, we couldn’t get them turned. And then defensively, their pressure got to us and we started playing on our heels.”

Norton had 15 points in the quarter to almost double-up Helias by himself, as the Crusaders had just eight points.

“(The Crusaders) were a step ahead of us in the first half,” Scanlon said. “They were sharper and playing on adrenaline from their Senior Night.

“At half, I didn’t know what we were going to do. But we turned it up defensively, full-court. I think we got them a little tired and I think we hit some shots, but our defense led to our offense.”

The Bruins followed that up with a 20-17 scoring edge in the fourth quarter to end up with 45 points in the second half.

“Twenty-six for us at half isn’t very good,” Scanlon said. “It’s OK, but we need to get a little more than that.”

The game started with Rock Bridge taking a 7-2 lead, but Helias came storming back to lead 16-13 by the end of the quarter. Isiah Sykes was perfect in the period, hitting both of his 3-point attempts and both of his free throws to score eight of his team-high 18 points.

The Bruins made just 6-of-19 shots in the frame to fall behind.

In the second quarter, it was Dylan Gish carrying the load for the Crusaders, as he had eight of the team’s 10 points. He joined Sykes in double digits with 11.

“I thought we did a great job in the first half,” Buffington said. “Obviously we were hitting shots, and that helps. It’s funny how your defensive intensity always picks up after a big 3.”

But the Bruins dominated after the break to improve to 17-8, while Helias dropped to 13-12.

Hale Hentges chipped in with 14 points for the Crusaders and tied Michael Tannehill for the team lead with five rebounds.

Norton dropped in a game-high 23 points, while Jackson Dubinski had 12. David Leitao led all players with 11 boards.

The Crusaders will return to action Tuesday in the Class 4 District 8 Tournament at Mexico High School. Helias, the second seed, will take on either third-seeded Moberly or sixth-seeded Fulton at 9 p.m.

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