Republic fell into a 17-point hole, then climbed almost all the way out of it, but their final shot at the buzzer was off the mark in a 50-48 loss to undefeated Carl Junction. It was the first loss in conference play in more than a year for Republic, who had gone undefeated in the Central Ozark Conference last season.
A dismal second quarter made the difference in the game. After the teams finished the first quarter tied 14-14, Republic managed just two more points before halftime. Carl Junction outscored Republic 17-2 in the second period to take a 31-16 lead into the break.
When Carl Junction’s Katie Scott scored the first bucket of the second half, the Lady Bulldogs led by 17 points. It was the high-water mark for Carl Junction, as Republic mounted a furious comeback.
The Lady Tigers outscored Carl Junction 32-17 the rest of the way. They closed the gap to six points by the end of the third quarter, at 40-34. By the time Carl Junction turned the ball over with ten seconds remaining in the game, the lead was down to two.
On Republic’s final possession, Jade Kirby got the ball in the middle of the lane and turned to face the bucket. She tried to fire a pass to Savana Powell-Goodman, who was cutting to the basket, but the pass was deflected. Kirby managed to track down the loose ball and get it to Clara Fronabarger on the perimeter as time wound down, but Fronabarger’s hurried shot was no good.
Republic’s defense caused plenty of problems for Carl Junction, forcing 11 turnovers in the full-court press alone. But the Lady Tigers were unable to take advantage, committing too-frequent turnovers themselves and missing a couple of point-blank shots that could have swung the outcome in their favor.
“We missed some shots in the paint where we just came up a little bit short,” said coach Kris Flood. “When you play teams like this, you’ve got to be capable of finishing.”
Carl Junction’s rebounding advantage also played a big role in the outcome. “That’s what really was the difference, was their second-chance opportunities,” said Flood. “A lot of it wasn’t the [6’3″] Scott kid, it was other kids getting critical rebounds. We just didn’t make contact and … it came back to haunt us.”
Flood was happy with the Lady Tigers’ final offensive possession after forcing a turnover to get one last opportunity. “We had a good look at it. I thought Jade looked like she was cutting somewhat backdoor, and they just got a hand on it and deflected it. And Clara was standing right there in front of me when she released (the final shot), and she had a good look, but she probably sensed that the clock was close, so might have hurried just a hair.
“If it went in, it would have been a heck of a win, but I’m still proud of the way the kids played. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve just got to keep battling…and getting a little better with some fundamental stuff.”
Republic falls to 7-5 overall, 1-1 in the Central Ozark Conference. The Lady Tigers travel to Columbia for a game against Hickman Saturday.
Republic scoring: Kaemyn Bekemeier 15, Jade Kirby 13, Delaney Smith 9, Jazzy Kirby 7, Clara Fronabarger 2, Savana Powell-Goodman 2