Republic turned in a tough performance with two injured starters, but Jefferson City Helias pulled away down the stretch for a 49-41 victory in the opening round of the Houlihan’s Invitational at Springfield Catholic Thursday night. Jaden DuVall played most of the game with an injured ankle, and leading scorer Broc Smith left the game for good in the third quarter after he injured his ankle on a rebound—just moments after Republic had climbed out of a hole to take its first lead of the game.
The Tigers struggled against the stingy Helias man-to-man defense in the first quarter, scoring only one field goal—a jumper by Drew McMillin about four minutes into the game. Helias led 11-4 after one quarter.
But Republic turned things around in the second period, outscoring the Crusaders 14-10 to cut the lead to 21-18 at halftime. Early in the second half, Helias pushed the lead to 28-22, but the Tigers responded with a 9-2 run to take a 31-30 lead with about 2:30 left in the third quarter.
Just moments later, Smith left the game with an injury when he came down wrong on his ankle after grabbing a defensive rebound. Even after he went to the bench, Republic and Helias traded buckets. The fourth quarter began with a 33-33 tie, and there were seven lead changes in the first few minutes after that. But after Republic led 40-39, Helias outscored Republic 10-1 the rest of the way to pull away for the victory.
“For us to play as bad as we did on offense in the first half, and Jaden battling an ankle and Broc rolls an ankle, and to take a (recently) state-ranked Class Four team down to the wire says a lot about our toughness and our fight,” says coach Trevyor Fisher. “We never put our head down and quit, and we gave ourselves a chance to win the game.”
Landon Harrison was a big reason the Crusaders came out on top. He finished with 18 points, including eight in the fourth quarter to help seal the Helias win.
Smith and Drew McMillin let Republic with 10 points each.
Republic drops to the consolation bracket. The Tigers play Sullivan at 6:00 p.m. Friday. (Republic Tiger Sports will broadcast the game live.)
Broc Smith 10, Drew McMillin 10, Trent Rackley 5, Cole Buxton 5, Hunter Creek 5, Race Looney 4, Tucker Thomas 2