Republic fought its way back from big deficits twice, but came up empty on key possessions in a season-ending 59-49 loss to Kickapoo in the Class 6 District 5 semifinals at Ozark Friday. In each half, Republic rallied from double-digit deficits before letting a high-powered Kickapoo team off the hook by missing opportunities to cut the Chiefs’ lead even further.
Republic jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Kickapoo got rolling and quickly responded with 12 consecutive points of its own. The Chiefs led by 11 at one point, and finished the first quarter with a nine-point lead, 22-13.
“I thought we had a good start, then when they went on their run, we had two or three trips where we got great looks and didn’t make them,” said coach Tim Brown. “Then they came down and made some shots. We had some assignment errors defensively and did some uncharacteristic things to allow them to be in a position to score 22 first-quarter points, which is not ideal for us.”
Republic got the lead down to six points twice in the second quarter. During one key stretch over about four minutes, the Tigers held Kickapoo to a single free throw — but failed to score on five consecutive possessions. Kickapoo outscored Republic 7-3 in the final 90 seconds of the half and led 32-21 at halftime.
“Mid-second quarter, I really thought we were in a good spot. We hadn’t played really well since the first two minutes of the game, and at that point in time, we had some of our emptiest possessions that we’ve had all year,” Brown said. “Kickapoo is too good. But I can’t say enough about our kids. They fought.”
Kickapoo stretched its lead to 15 points in the third quarter and seemed poised to put the game out of reach, but the Tigers fought back again. Sophomore Brenley Hagewood played a big role in keeping the Tigers in striking distance. He had nine points in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 23.
Republic scored seven consecutive points during a span at the end of the third period and the beginning of the fourth. That cut the lead to eight. And when Jordan Douglas dropped in a three-pointer with about 4:30 remaining, the Kickapoo lead was seven., 50-43. But the Chiefs responded with five consecutive points, and Republic would never be closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Kickapoo advances to the district championship game Monday to meet Nixa.
Republic ends one of its best seasons ever with a 24-4 record. The year included an 18-game winning streak, matching the second-longest in program history and the most consecutive wins for Republic since 1992-93.
The night also marked the final game for four seniors: Ahlante Askew, Gunner Ellison, Khamari Edwards, and Isaiah Nabors.
“I told our seniors that to have the year they had, not many teams in the history of our program have been able to do that. They’ve put our program in the top ten in the state, and we’re in a position where we’re competing against the best in the state now. We’re Class 6, and that’s where we’re going to be,” Brown said.
“I couldn’t say enough about our guys — 24-4 with our schedule, Blue & Gold champs, an 18-game win streak. And the way they approached it every day, they loved and cared about each other. Those are the things that they’re going to take with them the rest of their lives, and if they can apply them in their life, they’re going to be happy and successful, whatever they do.”
Score by Quarters
Kickapoo 22 10 12 15 – 59
Republic 13 8 13 15 – 49
Brenley Hagewood 23, Ahlante Askew 14, Aslan Ebisch 6, Jordan Douglas 3, Gunner Ellison 3