After the first quarter Thursday at the Nixa Invitational Tournament, there wasn’t a lot for Republic fans to cheer about. Park Hill South, with five starters over six feet tall, shut down the Lady Tigers and ran away with a 71-43 victory.
But Republic senior Kaemyn Bekemeier provided one bright spot with a minute left in the third quarter when she did something she does in almost every game: drove past a defender, found a lane to the basket, drew a foul and hit a shot. This time, though, it was different — the bucket put Bekemeier’s career point total at exactly 2,000.
Watch a clip of Bekemeier’s 2000th point:
Bekemeier had entered the game needed 11 points to hit the milestone. She had nine points at halftime, but didn’t score during the first seven minutes of the second half, until her scoop-shot layup went in. Bekemeier said she didn’t know how many points she’d scored, and tried not to find out, because “I just wanted it to flow in the game and not force anything,” she said.
Bekemeier first realized she’d probably surpassed 2,000 points based on the reaction of some Republic fans in the bleachers. “When I heard the crowd yelling, I was like, ‘That must have been it.’ I think it would have been better if we were winning, but it happened the way that it did, and it was okay.”
In characteristic fashion after the game, she passed around praise for others when addressing what made her accomplishment possible.
“The opportunity I’ve been given by (Coach) Flood — the opportunity to play as a freshman and even start as a freshman, I think the confidence he had in me allowed me to play how I did my freshman year and have that boost on those points,” she said.
“And my teammates, they’ve pushed me. Even in practice, those JV girls that guard me made me better every single day.”
Bekemeier finished with 20 points, nine in the fourth quarter. But it was Park Hill South that stole the show on the scoreboard. With a roster full of tall, quick, and talented players, the Panthers pulled away from the second quarter on. Republic tied the score 11-11 on a three-pointer by Bekemeier late in the first quarter, but never led all night.
When the second quarter began, Park Hill South led 17-15. But the Panthers outscored Republic 20-5 in the second quarter and the game was never close again.
Freshman Addison Bjorn, one of the mostly highly-rated players in the country for the class of 2026, finished with a game-high 21 points. Teammate Ava Miles, another of the state’s top freshmen, finished with 12.
Park Hill South improves to 12-3 and moves into the championship game of the tournament Saturday afternoon. Republic falls to 14-3. The Lady Tigers will likely play for the third place Saturday — but they won’t know for sure until games are completed Friday.
Tournament organizers have pushed up the start of Saturday’s games. The first game will be played at 10:00 am. The third-place game will be at 11:30 am, and the championship game will be at 1:00 pm.
Score by Quarters
Park Hill South 17 20 15 19 – 71
Republic 15 5 11 12 – 43
Kaemyn Bekemeier 20, Misora Nambara 7, Molly Mason 6, Alaina Norman 4, Lauren Chastain 2, Molly Blades 2, Alex Price 2