The Republic Lady Tigers didn’t back down from the bigger, stronger, three-time defending state champion Rock Bridge Bruins. But in the end, it didn’t matter, as Rock Bridge wore down Republic in a 64-44 victory in the state quarterfinals at Bolivar Saturday. The final score was exactly the same as the last time Republic and Rock Bridge met in December.
Despite the final margin, the game opened well for the Lady Tigers. Micah Mansker drilled two quick three-pointers and Republic jumped on top 7-2 before Rock Bridge began to assert its size. Tori Taylor and Brooke Stanfield both picked up two quick fouls inside, making the size advantage for the Bruins even more noticeable.
“We really got off to a nice start, hit a couple threes. Then they basically took that away,” says coach Kris Flood. “Once they establish that lead, they’re going to be tough to come back on. That pedigree–they know how to win. Give them a ton of credit. They’re a good team and I really think they’ve got a good opportunity to win Class 5.”
Returning Missouri Class 5 Player of the Year, 6’1″ guard Sophie Cunningham, scored 15 points in the first half. When she wasn’t scoring, she drew the defense and dished to 6’4″ Madison Treece or 6’4″ Cierra Porter, who combined for 10 more in the first half. Still, the game remained close until the final minutes of the second quarter, when Rock Bridge scored seven straight points to push a four-point lead to 11. They led 33-21 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bruins picked up where they’d left off. They quickly extended the lead to 16 points, and outscored Republic 21-11 to put the game away. They led 54-32 after three.
“We don’t match up with them very well as far as size, and we really struggled defensively. Every time we’d try to do something different, they’d make an adjustment and were getting a lot of easy baskets,” says Flood. “They had a couple kids that we were going to lay off of a little bit, and they hit a couple big threes on us. We had to respect that, and that took some of our game plan away from us.”
Offensively, Flood says his team did a good job attacking the basket, which was the game plan coming in.
“We just didn’t finish some shots off, and to their credit, they’re hard to shoot around,” Flood says. “They alter a lot of shots, and I think that affected us.”
Logan Flood led the Lady Tigers with 11 points. Jordan Kabetske added ten. Mansker scored six, Brooke Stanfield had four, and Alexis Ladwig and Jade Sawyer scored three each. Michayla Shanks, Brylee Argo, and Tori Taylor each had two, and Allyson Barrett added one.
The Lady Tigers end their season with a 25-4 record. It was their first season competing in Class 5 against the state’s biggest schools. Three of their four losses were to top-five teams — two losses to Rock Bridge and one to Springfield Kickapoo.
The first season in Class 5 “was everything we anticipated,” Flood says. “It was going to be a rough adjustment. We played a pretty good schedule that prepared us. We ran into a buzzsaw today. They’re playing well and they’re healthy now.
“We see what we have to do,” he says. “We’ve got to get a little big stronger and be able to handle the physicality as we go on.”
The Grace Place Player of the Game is Logan Flood. Flood’s willingness to drive to the basket in the first half helped spark the Republic offense in the first half, and she finished with a team-high 11 points.
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The loss also ends the careers of three Lady Tiger seniors: Micah Mansker, Michayla Shanks, and Tori Taylor. All three have been a part of some of the winningest years in the program’s history.
“They’ve been a tremendous core for our team. We’ve had a lot of fun, especially the last two years,” says Flood. “They’ve hopefully paved the way for the young kids. They’re real positive role models. This is just a little small part of what life is. I’m just glad to be able to be a part of that. That’s one of the reasons I got into this profession.
“It’s always tough to say goodbye and move on. I told them I’ll see them around. I still want them to be a part of the program.”