Jazzy Kirby gets fouled on the way to the basket in the second half of the Lady Tigers' season opener.

“Newcomers” Lead Republic in Season Opener

After providing a spark off the bench for most of her sophomore year, Jazzy Kirby joined the starting lineup in a big way. Kirby scored 13 points to lead Republic past St. Louis Gateway 57-46 in the team’s season opener. A newcomer to the team, freshman Kaemyn Bekemeier, chipped in 12 points in her first varsity game.

Republic used its defensive quickness to overcome a big size disadvantage against a much larger Gateway lineup, with two players over six feet tall. For the first quarter and a half, the Lady Tigers mostly limited the Jaguars to one shot on each possession. Midway through the second quarter, Republic led by 14 points, 26-12. The score was 31-18 at halftime.

In the second half, Gateway asserted its size advantage to fight its way back into the game. A pair of Jaguars guards, Kinnuady Daniels and Marshaun Bostic, teamed up for 22 points after halftime to help Gateway make a game of it. They closed the gap to seven late in the third quarter, but Republic responded with five straight points –– two by Jade Kirby and a three-pointer by Kaitlyn Ragsdale –– to grab the momentum back from the Jaguars. Republic led 42-30 going into the fourth quarter.

Gateway never got closer than nine points the rest of the way, and Jazzy Kirby scored the last six points of the game for Republic to help ice the season-opening win.

Coach Kris Flood said the first game went mostly according to plan “for a first game, kids in some different roles and trying to work through that. We had watched them on film. I knew they had some size and I thought that could give us a little bit of trouble… but for the most part, pleased.

“I thought the kids played hard. In the first half, they really did a good job with the rebounding and limiting to one shot. In the second half, we struggled a little bit with that,” Flood said.

The Lady Tigers played the second half without Shealyn Barrett in the post, after she aggravated an ankle injury in the first quarter, and that may have contributed to Gateway’s ability to get second-chance points later in the game.

Jazzy Kirby said after a cold shooting start, she turned her attention to defense.

“I caught on quick that my threes weren’t going in, so I was trying to make up for it on defense,” she said. “I think that helped me to focus on one area and not focus on me missing all my threes.”

Bekemeier said she had a small case of “first-game jitters” in her first high school game, but “the team was so welcoming, so it made it really, really easy to fit in.”

Republic improves to 1-0. Gateway is 0-2. The Lady Tigers are off until December 6, when they travel to Springdale, Ark., to face Har-Ber. Republic Tiger Sports will broadcast that game live.

Jazzy Kirby 13, Kaemyn Bekemeier 12, Jade Kirby 8, Kaitlyn Ragsdale 8, Savana Powell-Goodman 7, Delaney Smith 5, Shealyn Barrett 4


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