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Kaemyn Bekemeier is cut off on the baseline by two defenders. Raytown held Bekemeier to two points in the second half. (by Steve Rackley)

Raytown Roughs Up Republic to Earn Final Four Bid

Republic was looking for a repeat performance, but it was Raytown that got revenge with a 50-43 win in the state quarterfinals in Bolivar Saturday. The Lady Jays used their physical style to disrupt Republic’s offense and clean up on the offensive boards, avenging a December loss to earn a spot in the Show Me Showdown next weekend in Springfield.

“They were just more physical than us. They beat us up on the offensive boards, and we just didn’t do a very good job there, giving away too many second-chance points,” said coach Kris Flood. “I thought we guarded well, and got them to miss some shots, but they just out-phsysicaled us.”

Raytown’s biggest advantage came on the glass, where the Lady Jays out-rebounded Republic 32-21. And Republic’s efforts to mount a comeback were hampered by its free throw shooting. The Lady Tigers were just 5-for-10 from the line, while Raytown was 13-for-17.

Republic started strong, beginning with a long three-pointer by Kaemyn Bekemeier early in the first quarter. Bekemeier had 13 first-half points and the Lady Tigers led by as many as six points, 21-15, in the second quarter.

Raytown took advantage of its strength inside to close out the first half by outscoring Republic 7-2, cutting the lead to one point at halftime. Republic led 23-22 at the break.

The third quarter belonged to the Lady Jays. They continued to dominate inside, scoring on second-, third-, and fourth-chance points. They outscored Republic 14-7 in the quarter and led 36-30 going into the final period.

It wasn’t until the final two minutes of the third quarter that Republic began to adjust to the physical style of play, ramping up its defensive pressure and pushing back to grab some momentum. The Lady Tigers outscored Raytown 11-6 during one stretch late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Republic cut Raytown’s lead to three points, 42-39, but would never get any closer.

Both leading scorers, Bekemeier and Summer Yancy of Raytown, were shut down in the second half after scoring 13 in the first half. Bekemeier had five points and Yancy had only two after halftime. (Ed. note: Corrects initial article that credited Bekemeier with only two points in the second half.)

For Republic, which had played some of its most balanced basketball during the last few weeks, the supporting cast’s shots weren’t falling. The guard trio of Misora Nambara, Lauren Chastain, and Molly Blades, which averaged about 24 points combined throughout the season, scored only 10 points as a group Saturday.

“We’ve had kids hit some of those shots, and when we did get looks (tonight), they just didn’t fall,” Flood said. “Once they got a decent lead on us, we started pressing on offense. If we were down six, we were trying to get six in one possession, and it just doesn’t happen. But the credit goes to (Raytown). They really guarded us.”

The game marked the final one in a Republic uniform for Kaemyn Bekemeier, the best player to ever wear it. She finishes her career as the program’s all-time leading scorer and the all-time leading rebounder. She holds the record for most free throws made in a career, and holds the single-game records in all three of those categories. She also holds the single-season scoring and free throw records, in addition to other marks. But that’s not all that has made her an important part of the program, Flood said.

“It’s been a pleasure to coach her for four years. You don’t have a ton of kids who come through your program like she has and put their mark on the program, and it’s not just the records,” he said. “She’s always been a very coachable kid and a good teammate. It’s rare to get that opportunity (as a coach) to be a part of it. I’ll always appreciate that.”

Republic finishes its season at 26-4. All four of Republic’s losses were to state-ranked teams, and the Lady Tigers beat six state-ranked teams this year, including three of the top ten in Class 6.

“It’s a great learning experience. We have one senior in Kaemyn, and the rest of them now have played in big games all year and have a taste of this,” Flood said. “In the locker room, you could see it hurt them. It stings to be that close, and they kind of let it slip away a little bit. That tells me they’re invested. It just wasn’t their night. Give Raytown credit, they outplayed us at times.”

Score by Quarters
Raytown 9 13 14 14 – 50
Republic 12 11 7 13 – 43

Individual Scoring
Kaemyn Bekemeier 18, Alaina Norman 11, Misora Nambara 6, Lauren Chastain 4, Alex Price 2, Molly Mason 2

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