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AliceThe Republic Lady Tigers dug their way out of a 1st-half hole caused by cold shooting, but couldn’t overcome the hot shooting of Haylee Beard and Hannah Cook in a 53-46 loss at home. The loss is the first of the season for Republic (21-1), and ends a program-wide 83-game win streak to start the season.

Republic’s outside shooters couldn’t get untracked in the 1st half, as the Lady Tigers failed to hit a 3-pointer until the 3rd quarter. Leading scorer Alice Heinzler was shut out before halftime, as Ozark jumped to a 24-16 lead at the midway point.

In the 2nd half, Heinzler caught fire as Republic charged back. Trailing 30-20, Republic scored 12 straight points to take a 32-30 lead. Heinzler had nine points in the quarter. Michayla Shanks hit a key three-pointer during that stretch to ignite the crowd, and the teams were tied 32-32 heading into the final period.

But in the 4th quarter, Cook and Beard hit three key 3-pointers in quick succession to help Ozark get a lead it would never relinquish. Heinzler had two treys of her own, but Ozark eventually pulled away and hit its free throws down the stretch. Cook had 11 of her game-high 25 points in the 4th quarter, and Heinzler scored 10 of her 19.

Sarah Kreul, still wearing a mask that limits her vision to protect a broken nose, scored eight points for Republic. Alex Botkin and Lindsey Carlson scored six points apiece.

The loss ends one of the most remarkable streaks in Republic history. No Republic girls basketball team had lost since the final game of the regular season last winter — a string of 89 games in a row. Coach Kris Flood says the loss can turn into a positive for the Lady Tigers.

“It will help us, I think, in the long run,” he says. “The only thing I’m concerned about, we’ve got to turn around and play another good team (Dexter) Saturday. They’re just as physical. And another tough one on Monday (against Branson). Hopefully we can rebound and not let this one start a streak the other way.”

Republic travels to West Plains on Saturday, where they’ll play state-ranked Dexter at Missouri State University-West Plains. The JV game has been canceled, so it will be a varsity-only matchup at 4 p.m.

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