Drew McMillin exploded for a career-high 31 points and Republic overcame an early deficit to beat Neosho on the road 61-48. The Tigers fell behind 5-0, but responded with a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter, and they never trailed the rest of the way.
In the second quarter, McMillin took over, scoring 12 points as Republic took a 31-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. For a second consecutive game, McMillin had 19 points at halftime. He finished with five three-pointers, but a big part of his scoring success came on dribble penetration.
“Whenever I start making outside shots, they start to close out on me hard, so that opens up the lane a little bit more,” McMillin said.
Both teams came into the game playing good basketball. Republic was 8-4, having won five of its last six games. Neosho was 9-4, and had one four of its last five. But dribble penetration is Neosho’s bread and butter, and Republic’s defense took away that option for much of the night, forcing the Wildcats to settle for difficult shots on many of their possessions. Landon Austin, Neosho’s leading scorer, managed just six points. He was averaging 16 when the game began.
Joe Rexroat, who scored 13 points for the Tigers, said after the game he enjoyed playing in Neosho’s loud gym.
“It was a lot of fun. There were some plays where the student section was saying stuff to me. Whenever places get loud like that, it makes playing in a gym like this ten times more fun,” he said.
Republic has won six of its last seven games and improves to 9-4. The Tigers are back in action Friday at Carl Junction. Republic Tiger Sports will broadcast that game live.
Republic scoring: Drew McMillin 31, Joe Rexroat 13, Race Looney 8, Ahlante Askew 5, Will Berry 3, Tucker Thomas 1