Seven weeks ago, the Lady Tigers had a 5-5 record and a two-game losing streak. Now they’re Central Ozark Conference champions.
Republic completed an undefeated run through the conference with a 38-36 win on the road at Ozark. Clara Fronabarger delivered the winning shot with 5.8 seconds remaining, sinking a three-pointer to boost the Lady Tigers into the lead after Ozark had led for most of the fourth quarter.
“[If we did a preseason poll], we probably would not have been one of the teams to be picked,” said coach Kris Flood. “To get this one is extremely pleasing. We’ve overcome a lot and we’ve come a long way since November. We’ve really grown as a team.”
Republic trailed by five points, 36-31, with 3:30 remaining in the game. But Flood went with a five-guard lineup that put more quickness on the floor, and Republic dominated from that moment on. Republic scored the last seven points of the game to squeak out the victory.
Fronabarger’s game-winning three-pointer will get the most attention, but the key possession of the game may have come around the 3:00 mark, when Jazzy Kirby stole the ball in the backcourt after a Republic missed shot, then Republic got an offensive rebound after another miss. On the third shot of the possession, Halli Bartelsmeyer hit a pull-up jumper to cut the lead to three, 36-33.
Fronabarger finished with a team-high 14 points for Republic, including seven points in the fourth quarter.
“She had some critical baskets when we needed it,” Flood said of Fronabarger. “She got the driving basket and a foul, and I can’t say enough about the three she hit. They missed a couple free throws and we took advantage of it.”Clara Fronabarger, Halli Bartelsmeyer, Avylina Powell-Qualo, and Jade Kirby join our Kris Yocum State Farm Post-game Show
After Fronabarger’s three-pointer made it 38-36, Ozark missed the front end of a one-and-one. In a subsequent scramble for the ball, Ozark committed a foul with less than two seconds left. Ozark intercepted an in-bound pass at half-court, but Katie Mayes’ desperation heave was no good and Republic won the league championshiop.
“We’re COC champs and hopefully we can keep riding this momentum and not let down,” Flood said. “We’ve got some other things to go.”
Republic is 18-7 overall and finished the COC schedule with a perfect 9-0 record. The Lady Tigers have won eight in a row with one regular-season game remaining, at home against Rogersville Wednesday.
Clara Fronabarger 14, Halli Bartelsmeyer 12, Jade Kirby 6, Shealyn Barrett 4, Jazzy Kirby 2
Farr Better Player of the Game
Clara Fronabarger gave the Lady Tigers just what they needed, just when they needed it. She led the team in scoring, but more importantly, she hit several big shots down the stretch — including a game-winning three-pointer with less than six seconds remaining. Her performance makes her our Farr Better Player of the Game.
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