Two of the best teams in Missouri played one of the best games in recent memory for the championship of Class 6 Distrct 12, and top-seeded Kickapoo made enough plays in overtime to escape with an 81-73 win over #2 Republic. Two months ago, Kickapoo had beaten Republic by 28 points.
“They were all out,” coach Kris Flood said of his team’s effort. “They were really focused. We talked about it a little bit yesterday after practice as a coaching staff. We felt like they were really focused and we weren’t going to worry about effort.”
Every time it looked like one team would take control, the other battled back. Kickapoo grabbed a 17-11 lead in the first quarter, only to see Republic cut the lead to two. After Kickapoo jumped ahead 27-17 early in the second quarter, Republic battled back to tie the game 30-30.
It was a game of big plays at every turn, but the outcome may have been determined by two defensive plays by Kickapoo junior guard Kaya Goldsby. At the end of the second and third quarters, Republic had the ball with a chance for a final shot, but each time, Goldsby stole the ball and made a layup for Kickapoo. At halftime, Republic had a chance to take a four-point lead before Goldsby’s steal and layup tied it. At the end of the third quarter, Republic could have gone ahead by a basket, but instead trailed by two as the fourth quarter began.
Despite giving up inches at every position, Republic battled from the start on the glass, working for position and holding Kickapoo’s taller lineup in check. Freshman Rilynn Finley played her best game of the year on the season’s biggest stage. She held her own inside and finished with 23 points to lead Republic.
The Lady Tigers had one of their most balanced nights of the year on offense, with all five starters scoring in double figures. In addition to Finley’s 23, Republic got 15 from Jazzy Kirby, 13 from Savana Powell-Goodman, and 11 each from Kaitlyn Ragsdale and Kaemyn Bekemeier.
But offensive boards and second-chance points by Kickapoo at key moments helped them come out on top. Kickapoo center Indya Green finished with 25 points, many of them after offensive rebounds, before she fouled out. Bella Fontleroy finished with 19.
Republic had overcome an eight-point third-quarter deficit to take its biggest lead of the night, 58-54, when Savana Powell-Goodman splashed in a three-pointer from the right wing. But it was Kickapoo’s turn to fight back, and the Lady Chiefs retook the lead at 62-60. The teams traded buckets throughout the rest of the fourth quarter and Kickapoo led 69-67 with three seconds remaining, when Kaitlyn Ragsdale found Powell-Goodman wide open on the left block on an in-bounds pass. Powell-Goodman’s layup tied the score and sent the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, Republic didn’t score a field goal for the first 3:12, and Kickapoo built a 76-70 lead. When Jazzy Kirby knocked down a three-pointer to make it 76-73, Republic had a glimmer of hope, but Kickapoo made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Kickapoo advances to the state sectional with a 26-2 record. The Lady Chiefs will play Nixa. Republic finishes with a 19-7 record.
It was the final game in a Republic uniform for seniors Regan Holmes, Kaitlyn Ragsdale, Jazzy Kirby, and Savana Powell-Goodman.
“I told (the seniors), ‘I’ve been at this quite a while, and it seems like there are certain group, they leave eras.’ And I told the seniors they’re going to leave an era that I remember when I get out of this,” Flood said. “They’ve given the program three great years here in a row.”
Rilynn Finley 23, Jazzy Kirby 15, Savana Powell-Goodman 12, Kaitlyn Ragsdale 11, Kaemyn Bekemeier 11