Nixa scored 30 points in the fourth quarter, 13 of them by Kelsey Biro, to beat Republic 61-50 and capture the Class 5 District 12 championship. The loss ends a streak of four consecutive district titles four Republic, and marks the first time since moving to Class 5 that the Lady Tigers have not advanced to sectionals.
The teams traded baskets and turnovers in the first quarter, with neither team leading by more than four points. They were tied 11-11 as the second quarter began.
But Republic scored the first nine points to briefly take control, before Nixa closed out the half on a 7-2 to run to get back in the game. The Lady Tigers led 22-18 at halftime and held onto the lead until the final minute of the third quarter, when Nixa grabbed a 31-30 lead. The Lady Eagles used that to seize the momentum and controlled the game the rest of the way.
Nixa outscored Republic 9-2 in the first two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, fueled by a full-court pressure defense that caused a string of Republic turnovers.
“They kind of picked up their intensity a little bit and we just didn’t respond very well,” says coach Kris Flood. “We had three or four turnovers in a row and they converted. Once they got ahead, they rode that momentum the rest of the way.”
On the offensive end, Biro took over, scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points. Megan Branstetter hit a couple of three-pointers to give Republic flashes of hope, but Nixa sealed the game at the free throw line.
“I knew once we got down, it was going to be rough to chip away at it, the way they shoot free throws as a team,” Flood says.
Branstetter scored 15 to lead Republic. Avy Powell-Qualo finished with 12 and Halli Bartelsmeyer had 11.
It was the final game in a Republic uniform for Branstetter, Brylee Manes, and Morgan McGuire. Republic ends its season with a 15-12 record. They went 13-6 after a dismal 2-6 start.
“We could have packed it in after that 2-6 start. We had a pretty good schedule at the beginning and I thought we were getting in some spots where we were in some games,” Flood says. “We got better and I think we gained a little confidence as we went. Overall, we had a good season. We had a chance to win a district championship. I don’t know if anybody would have said at the beginning.”
Megan Branstetter 15, Avy Powell-Qualo 12, Halli Bartelsmeyer 11, Brylee Manes 6, Lacee Walcher 4, Jade Kirby 2