It’s a year of anniversaries for Republic basketball. And today’s trip to the girls basketball state quarterfinals brings to mind another one — arguably the most important season ever for Republic girls sports.
Thirty years ago, on March 11, 1993, the Lady Tigers earned their first-ever spot in the state quarterfinals. And four days later, Republic knocked off perennial power and then-COC rival Marshfield in the quarterfinals to earn the program’s first spot ever in the final four. Republic’s win ended a five-year streak of final four appearances for Marshfield, and it marked the ascendancy of a Republic girls athletic program that has maintained a spot among the best in Missouri ever since.
The playoff run had started with a sectional win over McDonald County that avenged two earlier losses. The Lady Tigers forced 22 turnovers by McDonald County on the way to a 63-52 win. Amber Iseminger scored 19 points to lead Republic, and an 11-4 run by the Lady Tigers at the end of the third quarter helped secure the victory.
In the semifinals, two free throws by Vicky Smith helped Republic get over the hump against Marshfield with a 57-54 win. Republic’s intense defense stopped the Lady Jays on the final two possessions of the game to advance.
Earlier, Republic had built a 12-point first-half lead, only to see it evaporate and turn into a two-point halftime deficit. Marshfield eventually led by six points late in the third quarter before the Lady Tigers stormed back.
“I guess it’s finally our turn,” Vicky Smith told the Springfield News-Leader after the quarterfinal win.
The 1993 playoff run included many connections to this year’s quarterfinalists. Assistant coach Tori Mooneyham; Amber Kile Blades, mother of Molly Blades; and Glenna Mooneyham Lander, aunt of Gracie Woods, were all on the Republic team. Michelle Mikkelson Bekemeier, mother of Kaemyn Bekemeier, played for Marshfield in that quarterfinal.
Republic is seeking its sixth final four appearance with a win today.