In the Class 5 third-place game Saturday, the Lady Tigers showed they belonged among the state’s elite girls basketball programs. They also learned that on a stage as big as the Show-Me Showdown, even your best effort is sometimes not enough for a victory.
Republic fought back from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter to take the lead against Parkway Central, but faltered down the stretch in a heartbreaking 55-53 loss to end their season. The Colts scored seven points in the last 20 seconds, capped by a buzzer-beating put-back by point guard Kennedy Moore, to snatch the victory away from the Lady Tigers.
“We gave ourselves some chances. I give credit to Parkway. They got some plays down there at the end, executed out, and they were the ones that came out on top,” said coach Kris Flood. “Not that our kids didn’t play hard.
The game-winner came after it looked like the worst Republic could do would be overtime. After Olivia Stephens made two free throws to tie the game, Republic had just under five seconds to race up the court for a potential game-winner. But after Fronabarger threw the in-bounds pass to Halli Bartelsmeyer, Bartelsmeyer dished it back to Fronabarger. The referee ruled that Fronabarger had not stepped completely onto the court yet, and it resulted in a turnover.
On the ensuing in-bounds play, Parkway Central missed its first shot, but Moore, at 5’2” the shortest player on the court, grabbed the rebound and put the ball through the hoop just ahead of the buzzer, giving Parkway Central the victory.
“You don’t want it to end that way, but it is what it is, and it’s been a tremendous ride,” said Flood.
Both teams were slow to start, and the first quarter mostly consisted of two out-of-sync offenses trying to find consistency. Republic jumped ahead 5-0 after a three-pointer by Halli Bartelsmeyer, but went silent offensively the remainder of the first quarter. The Colts led 8-5 after the first eight minutes. It was a streaky start to what turned into a streaky game in both directions.
In the second quarter, though, both teams found some rhythm––first Parkway Central, then Republic. The Colts jumped ahead 17-10 and seemed to be in control, but Republic answered with 14 consecutive points to take a 24-17 lead. One of the key stretches of the game came in the final two minutes of the second quarter, when the Colts finished the half with a 5-0 run to within a bucket at halftime. A three-pointer by Brooke Hilton was instrumental in Parkway Central’s finish to the half, and Republic held only a two-point lead at halftime, 24-22.
In the second half, the streaky play of both teams continued. The Lady Tigers led 32-31 midway through the third quarter, but the Colts scored ten points in a row to grab a nine-point lead early in the fourth. It looked like they might cruise down the stretch, but the never-quit Lady Tigers stormed back again. Republic scored 13 consecutive points to re-take the lead, 45-41, with a smaller lineup on the floor.
“We felt like there might have been some matchups there that we could expose a little bit. For the most part, when we made some runs, it was with a smaller group. We thought it was a time to push through,” Flood said.
The Lady Tigers pushed through to take the lead, but the Colts had one more push in them as well, and it was the decisive one. With Republic leading 52-48, Cynaa Coleman drained a three-pointer from the right wing to cut the lead to one. Republic made one of two free throws on its next possession, but Stephens tied the game, setting up the wild finish.
Savana Powell-Goodman, who came off the bench to provide a big lift for the second day in a row, scored all 12 of her points in the second half, and several of them in Republic’s fourth-quarter run. She was just one of the sophomores who came off the bench to shine this weekend, joining sophomore starter Clara Fronaberger. Jazzy Kirby finished with six points, including two driving layups during Republic’s first-half run. Kaitlyn Ragsdale stepped up for five points during that stretch. They all got additional playing time Saturday as Flood tried to give more rest to his regular rotation of players less than 24 hours after losing a tough semifinal.
It was the final game in a Lady Tigers uniform for Anna Bell, Halli Bartelsmeyer, and Avylina Powell-Qualo. Bartelsmeyer finished with a team-high 13 and Bell added four points.
“This has just been a tremendous experience. I’m so appreciative that they got to have it,” said Flood. “They’ve been a fun group to work with this year. I know it ended on a sour note, but I think once they get time to de-compress a little bit and think about it, they’ll remember the majority of good times… They get along so well, and these three have taken the under-classmen under their wing.”
Halli Bartelsmeyer 13, Savana Powell-Goodman 12, Jazzy Kirby 8, Clara Fronabarger 6, Kaitlyn Ragsdale 5, Anna Bell 4, Shealyn Barrett 3, Jade Kirby 2
Farr Better Player of the Game
For a lot of high school teams, the first half of the Lady Tigers’ 2018-19 season would have caused them to pack it in. After losing senior Avylina Powell-Qualo to injury and losing the last two games of the Pink & White tournament, the Lady Tigers stood at 5-5. But Powell-Qualo and her two fellow seniors, Anna Bell and Halli Bartelsmeyer, didn’t let the team quit. They rallied for an undefeated run through the COC and kept running all the way to the Show-Me Showdown. For their leadership, Republic’s three seniors––Bell, Bartelsmeyer, and Powell-Qualo––are our Farr Better Players of the Game.
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