With 4:25 remaining in the second quarter, Republic clung to a three-point lead over Neosho, and Tim Brown called a time out. When play resumed, Republic’s defense held Neosho without a field goal until 3:10 remained in the third quarter, and Republic romped to a 67-39 victory in the first Central Ozark Conference game of the season.
After the game, Broc Smith remembered what Brown said in the huddle.
“He was pretty fired up because he has high expectations for us and we weren’t doing our job defensively,” Smith said. “We were letting [Neosho] get too many offensive rebounds, and that led to more points than they should have [scored].”
From the time the teams returned from that time out, Republic outscored Neosho 43-18. The Tigers held Neosho without a field goal for eight and a quarter minutes.
“We’ve done good things defensively here in the last two (or) three weeks, and we felt like they [Neosho was] playing harder than us,” said Brown. “We weren’t rebounding the basketball very well, and we got a little frustrated on the offensive end. We were worried more about the offensive end than the defensive end. We just kind of challenged [our players] to have a little more pride on that end, and I felt like they responded really well.”
The Tigers got double-figure scoring from three players, led by Broc Smith with 23. Smith scored 16 of those points from the free throw line in a game that got more physical as the night wore on, resulting in two bloody noses––one for Smith and one for Jaden Duvall.
Drew McMillin scored 14 points and Tucker Thomas added 11 for the Tigers.
Republic outscored Neosho 19-13 in the first quarter and 15-9 in the second quarter, for a 34-22 halftime lead. The Tigers blew the game open in the third quarter by outscoring the Wildcats 21-12. Republic allowed just 17 second-half points.
The win gives Republic a 10-3 record. The Tigers are 1-0 in the COC. Neosho falls to 6-7 (0-1).
Broc Smith 23, Drew McMillin 14, Tucker Thomas 11, Race Looney 9, Trent Rackley 8, Nate Woolford 2