If anyone wondered whether Republic would suffer a letdown after a hard-fought loss to Ozark in the Blue & Gold semifinals Friday, the Tigers wasted no time answering. Republic bolted from the gate and dominated Camdenton in the first half, building a 28-point halftime lead, then holding on for a 69-54 victory.
“I was really proud of the way our kids came out after a disappointing way to finish the game last night,” said coach Tim Brown. “You never know how teams are going to respond, and that’s something we’ve talked about. Throughout the tournament, you see teams when they lose … that maybe you expect to win the next day, that doesn’t always happen. So I was really pleased with the energy that we came out to play with.”
One of the standout features of the Tigers’ first half was something that’s been missing from their repertoire the last few games.
“We got out and transition––something we’ve not done a very good job of, and something that we need to make more of an emphasis this next semester,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be able to get easy baskets. Something I told our guys was, if we get six points in transition a game, you look at our scores, that going to help us tremendously. So that’s something we’ve kind of went away from. We were learning what was a good shot and what wasn’t. And so we kind of slowed things down. But it’s something that we’ve got to get better at here these next eight days before we start league play.”
The second half was nearly as bad for the Tigers as the first half was good, but they’d built such a huge lead, it didn’t matter to the final outcome.
“[Camdenton] hit a lot of volleyball line shots––a lot of threes from very deep. And I think sometimes when you get a lead, you lose a little bit of that edge, especially when you play so well in the first half,” Brown said. “And it’s been a long week. It’s something we’ve got to get better at, but … we’re going to take all the positives from today because, you know, we could have come out and played like that to start the game, and we chose not to.”
Drew McMillin led Republic with 19 points. Broc Smith added 18 for the Tigers.
Brown says Republic’s recent run of success in the Blue & Gold can make it easy to overlook this team’s accomplishment for finishing third.
“We have guys that didn’t know if we were playing in JQH (Arena) for the third place games, because they’re so used to playing in the finals,” Brown said. “But you win three games in the Blue & Gold, and you do it on the winner’s side and get third, you’ve done something good. So we’ve got a lot to build on, and we’ve got a chance to do some good things this year.”