Republic Lady Tigers roll into district championship game against Kickapoo

Lauren Chastain steals the ball in Republic’s semifinal win against Ozark. She scored a fast-break layup after the steal. (by Steve Rackley)

The Republic bench reacts to a late second-half basket in Republic’s district semifinal. (by Steve Rackley)

When Kaemyn Bekemeier scored 16 points against Joplin to open district play, it put her at 2,236 career points. That extended the girls basketball scoring record for Republic that she already held, but it also surpassed the 2,225 points scored by Republic boys basketball great Howard Arndt during the 1960s, making her Republic’s all-time basketball scoring leader. (by David Brazeal)

Republic ripped Joplin, then pulled away from a pesky Ozark squad to advance to the district championship game.

In the district quarterfinal against Joplin, Republic outscored the Lady Eagles 26-2 in the first quarter and cruised to a 74-24 win. The Lady Tigers scored the first 11 points of the game despite a poor shooting start. Republic's defense pressured an outmatched Joplin team and made it difficult for the Lady Eagles to get off a shot on many of its possessions.

Molly Blades led Republic with 18 points, and Kaemyn Bekemeier scored 16. No one else was in double figures, but eight other players scored. Lanney Strong had a career-high eight varsity points. Annabelle Gerhardt-Hobbs and Sammi Watson each scored their first career varsity points, as well.

Republic got another balanced effort in a semifinal win over Ozark, 52-41. Republic had edged Ozark by two points in their regular-season matchup. But this time, a strong third quarter helped Republic build a lead and hold off an Ozark charge in the final minutes.

The lead changed seven times in the first half, and Republic held a two-point advantage, 30-28, at the midway point. In the third quarter, Republic's defense made the difference, holding Ozark to just six points over the eight minutes. Republic extended its lead to 31-24 as the fourth quarter began.

"We hung in there and had that lead there at half, and then kind of built on it and won that third quarter," Flood said. "And thank goodness we built a pretty good lead and were able to hang on there, especially when it got really physical. We hit just enough free throws to move on."

Republic scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to build a 38-24 lead, but had to withstand an Ozark rally that cut the lead to 47-39. When Bekemeier went to the bench after fouling out in the final two minutes, other players had to step up to secure Republic's victory. Republic outscored Ozark 5-2 over the last 1:15 to give Republic an 11-point margin of victory.

Bekemeier finished with 14 points to lead Republic, despite foul trouble that left her on the bench for much of the first half. Blades had 13 points, and teamed with Misora Nambara on the perimeter to spark the Republic defense. Nambara added eight points to go along with her ball-handling prowess against Ozark's full-court press. Alaina Norman had six points in the third quarter, when Republic was playing its best. Molly Mason scored four points on a couple of important fourth-quarter possessions. Lauren Chastain battled through illness to score five points. Alex Price and Gracie Woods also contributed valuable minutes when Bekemeier went to the bench with early foul trouble.

Republic entered the championship game Tuesday against Kickapoo with a 25-3 record. The Lady Tigers beat Kickapoo 55-48 earlier this season in the Pink & White Lady Classic.


Lawrence County Record

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