Republic outscored Nixa 17-1 over a three-minute stretch in the second half, storming from behind to knock off the Lady Eagles on their home floor, 62-57. Kaemyn Bekemeier scored 25 points to lead Republic, and Molly Mason stepped up to fuel the decisive comeback in her first varsity start.
Late in the third quarter, Nixa seemed thoroughly in control. Republic had led only once, for 16 seconds in the first half, 16-15, and Nixa’s man-to-man defense stifled the Lady Tigers. Nixa led 18-17 after one quarter and 31-28 at halftime. They had stretched the lead to ten points, 45-35, with less than a minute to go in the third period.
Coach Kris Flood said his focus at that point was on getting his team to continue playing its style of basketball.
“We had to bear down a little bit on defense and try to focus on getting multiple stops, then not press too much offensively,” he said. “It seemed liked tonight we didn’t have very good ball movement, and we just kept trying to emphasize ‘Set some screens, move the ball, make five or six passes, and you’ll eventually get a good shot.”
That more patient offense was evident when Republic began to climb out of the hole it had fallen into.
Republic began its comeback by closing the gap to 46-40 as the fourth quarter began, thanks to a putback by Alaina Norman and a three-point play by Bekemeier. Lauren Chastain opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the left corner on Republic’s first possession to cut the lead to three, 46-43.
Mason followed that up with a turnaround jumper to get Republic within a point, and on the Lady Tigers’ next possession, she rebounded a missed shot, put the ball back in the basket, got fouled, and completed a three-point play. That gave Republic the lead again, 48-46, with 6:14 remaining in the game.
The next time down the floor, Mason got an offensive rebound to keep the possession alive, and Bekemeier subsequently scored to make the lead four. And Molly Blades followed that up with a steal in the backcourt and a midrange jumper to give Republic its biggest lead of the night with 5:13 remaining, 52-46.
“I thought tonight she was really good about knowing where the ball was going to be,” Flood said of Mason. “It seemed like she was always in the spot where the ball was going to come off the rim, especially on offense. She got several key offensive rebounds, especially during that run.”
After Republic took a six-point lead, Nixa scored five straight to cut the lead to one again, but Republic never trailed the rest of the way. Chastain hit Blades with a pass across the lane for an open layup to get the lead back to two possessions at a key moment, and Republic held on from there. Bekemeier, Blades, and Mason combined to go seven for seven from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
The win was the 499th of Kris Flood’s coaching career. He and the Lady Tigers will shoot for 500 Thursday night at Webb City.
Nixa falls to 15-5, and 2-2 in the Central Ozark Conference. Republic is 18-3 (3-1).
Score by Quarters
Nixa 18 13 15 11 – 57
Republic 17 11 13 22 – 62
Kaemyn Bekemeier 25, Molly Mason 10, Molly Blades 9, Misora Nambara 7, Lauren Chastain 6, Alaina Norman 5