Republic held Neosho without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game, and that was just a sign of things to come for the Lady Tigers. Republic hurried and harassed Neosho all night in a dominating 63-27 victory on the road to start Central Ozark Conference play.
The Lady Tigers led 16-2 midway through the first quarter, and took a 34-16 lead into the locker room at halftime. They did it with Clara Fronabarger and Delaney Smith at the top of a full-court press defense that made it nearly impossible for Neosho to settle into its half-court offense at the other end of the floor. When Fronabarger or Smith failed to steal the ball, one of the other Lady Tigers often manage to step in front of a long Wildcat pass on the back end of the press.
If there was any negative for the Lady Tigers, it was their inefficiency at close range. But they made up for that with a dominating performance on the boards, often getting two, three, or four cracks at the basket per possession.
“I thought we came out aggressive … defensively and hit a couple shots. I was really happy with the effort on the boards,” said coach Kris Flood. “We had multiple possession where we were getting three, four looks. We didn’t shoot real well, but dad gum, we were giving ourselves opportunities with extra possessions, so we’re real happy with that.”
Eight different players scored for the Lady Tigers. Three of them finished in double figures: Kaemyn Bekemeier had 15, Jazzy Kirby had 11, and Jade Kirby had 10.
On the other end, Neosho managed just seven field goals all night against Republic’s defense. Olivia Hixson led the Lady Wildcats with 10 points, and she had three of the seven field goals and the only Neosho three-pointer of the night.
Republic held Neosho to only 11 points in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats 29-11 after the break.
The Lady Tigers are 7-4 and they will return to action with a conference game at Carl Junction Thursday night. Republic Tiger Sports will broadcast that game live.
Republic scoring: Kaemyn Bekemeier 15, Jazzy Kirby 11, Jade Kirby 10, Delaney Smith 7, Shealyn Barrett 6, Kaitlyn Ragsdale 5, Clara Fronabarger 5, Savana Powell-Goodman 4