Tigers win two before dropping championship game

Republic opened its own Republic Invitational Tournament with two wins, including an overtime thriller against Rogersville, before falling to Park Hill South in the championship game. Despite the loss, the team’s tournament performance left coach Tim Brown optimistic about the season.
In the opener, Republic thumped Fort Smith (Ark.) Southside 73-32. A 23-3 run in the first half put the Tigers in control.
“Our attention to detail defensively in blocking out was really, really good,” Brown said afterwards. “They had a really impres- sive guard that made some really hard shots for them. Anytime you’re able to hold a team to 32 [points], you did something well.”
Drew McMillin led Republic with 20 points, and nine different players scored for the Tigers.
In the semifinal, Republic overcame 13 three-pointers by Rogersville to win at the buzzer in overtime when McMillin fed Tucker Thomas under the basket for the win- ning layup. The 59-57 win avoided what would have been a disappointing loss for the Tigers, who lost a 44-35 lead in the final seven minutes of regulation. In addition to Thomas’s game- winner, the other highlight belonged to McMillin. At the end of the third quarter, he spun around and launched a one-handed heave at the basket from the far end of the court. It went in, and those three points ended up being a big part of the Tigers’ win.
Thomas led Republic with 20 points in the semifinal, and McMillin added 19.
In the championship game, a 59-50 loss to Park Hill South, Republic failed to do many of the little things that have helped the team succeed over the past few years.
“We are usually really good at ... the attention- to-detail-type things. We allowed one of their players to make four threes, and we knew that all he could do was be a designated shooter. Those guys aren’t supposed to get shots,” Brown said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort. It was kind of a mental thing where we didn’t do what we usually do.”
Republic turned the ball
over 11 times and missed several first-half free throws. Still, Brown’s focus after the game was on the Tigers’ over- all success during the first week of the season.
“I thought we had a great week. We did a lot of good things. We did have ... some long spurts that put us in some bad spots, but if you add up the number of minutes of the three games we played, I thought we had a lot of positive minutes, so I’m really proud of our guys.”
McMillin scored a season- high 22 points in the loss.


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