Rezabek scores 1,000th career point for Lakers

It was a game of runs Thursday night when Camdenton visited Rolla in Ozark Conference action. 

Both sides held significant leads at different times throughout the night, but the hometown Bulldogs managed to get the last laugh as they held on for a 68-66 win over the Lakers. 

Camdenton, which opened the game with relentless pressure, made Rolla uncomfortable early as the Bulldogs coughed up 16 first quarter turnovers while the Lakers opened the game on a 14-1 run. Still, Rolla stayed within striking distance trailing by just nine points at the half and eventually opened up a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Camdenton was not about to quit though and chopped a 10-point deficit down to two points in the final two minutes before the clock ran out. 

Camdenton senior Coley Rezabek scored a bucket with seven seconds remaining, but the ball bounced around after it fell through the hoop and Rolla managed to escape without having to inbound the ball again. No delay of game was called by the officials, but Camdenton coach Staci Caffey said the Bulldog comeback was earned. 

"That was not the game decision. We waited until too late to light a fire, but Rolla did a great job of handling us, causing us to get out of our comfort zone and their shooters lit it up," Caffey said after the game. "We did not take care of the job tonight." 

After a tough start, Rolla was able to handle Camdenton's defensive pressure and started to become efficient offensively, sinking buckets when they were needed. Meanwhile, the Lakers went a little cold when the ball was in their hands.

"We did not score out of our defense. We were still getting some turnovers and steals, but were not turning them into points," Caffey noted. "They (Rolla) hit some big 3-pointers, their shooters got hot and they started handling the pressure. 

"Of course, my two point guards were out with three fouls early so you have to learn how to push through that. Hopefully, we use this game as a learning experience of what not to do in the future." 

But one thing that was not lacking Thursday night and has not been lacking all season was effort. That was clearly evident by the way Camdenton fought back when Rolla pushed ahead for a 12-point lead and had to hold on until the very end.

"That is one thing that is so enjoyable to coach because it does not matter what five (players) I have out there. I know I can count on them to give it everything they have," Caffey said. When we go into the locker room, there is not one dry jersey and it is one of those things where we have high expectations for our players and they step up and do it. 

"I feel like we lacked in intensity for a few quarters, but effort is never a question of whether it is there or not."

There was also another thing Caffey, the team and Laker fans could be proud of Thursday night. Going into the contest, Rezabek needed just 11 points to score her 1,000th career point and she did so midway through the second quarter. Caffey called a timeout and everyone in the gym applauded the senior on her accomplishment. 

"I shot the ball, saw the referee (make a gesture) and I thought there was a technical," said Rezabek who had no idea she was that close to the feat. "Then, I saw my teammates jumping up and down and I was like, 'What's going on?' I look up at the crowd and everyone has their 1,000-point (signs).

"To be unexpected like that, it just feels that much better and all the hard work paid off. I cannot thank my teammates enough because they were the ones that got me here and there was no 'I' in team. I just can't thank my teammates and coaches enough."

Back home in Camdenton, there are pictures on the wall near the locker room of all the 1,000-point scorers in program history. Rezabek's older sister Bailey, a 2016 Camdenton graduate who plays for Southwest Baptist University, is part of that club and Coley is glad that older sister no longer gets to hold that over her head.

"Everyday I walk to the locker room and always look up there," Rezabek said of the pictures on the wall. "I always dreamed to be up there one day with my sister. Now that I actually get to be up there and be remembered as a Lady Laker in the 1,000-point club, it is truly special because there are only four.

"To join my sister makes it that much better and now she cannot brag on me because I'm up there with her too," Rezabek said with a smile. 

Caffey said the accomplishment was well-deserved, but Rezabek's value is much more than the ability to put a ball through a hoop.

"She has been an outstanding player and captain for us. I put a lot in her hands, have a lot of expectations for her and she rises to it ever night," the coach pointed out. "She steps up, makes sure everybody gets the ball, busts it on offense and defense and does not take breaks. Those are the things that has brought her to where she is at."

Caffey also took some time to give thanks to the sportsmanship on display from the Rolla crowd.

"I thought Rolla was great. They gave her applause and that was awesome because it just shows what kind of program Rolla has as well," the coach stated. "Sometimes when you get on the road and do it, it is not so special, but tonight was special."

Rezabek led the Lakers with 23 points, fellow senior Abbie Miller added 12, junior Natalie Basham recorded 10, sophomore Shelby Kurtz put up eight, junior Darby Roam finished with seven and senior Kylie Meier chipped in six respectively. 

Camdenton (15-7, 6-2 Ozark Conference) was scheduled to face Bolivar in the Liberator Tournament Championship on Saturday, but the game was cancelled due to anticipated inclement weather. The regular season contest on February 19 at Bolivar, the Lakers' regular season finale, will serve as the championship game.

Meanwhile, Camdenton will focus on preparing for the conference finale against Lebanon on Monday. The Yellowjackets will come to town at 5 p.m. One thing Caffey will be looking for going forward is cutting down on turnovers, but the Rolla game could also serve as a spark and motivator going into the postseason. Time will soon tell.

"I felt like we played with some lead so we'll get focused as far as not turning the ball over. I felt like we turned the ball over way too many times and have to take care of the ball and make every possession count," the coach noted.

Rezabek, for one, is on board with that notion.

"We can't dwell on this loss. We have to use this as momentum, get in practice and get better," the senior said.