The runway was a little bumpy, but Republic finally achieved takeoff to fly past Neosho and open the district tournament with a win Wednesday night, 56-40. The Tigers broke open a tie game at halftime by outscoring the Wildcats 32-16 in the second half to advance to the district semifinals.
The first half was almost dead even throughout the first 16 minutes. Republic led 5-2 early, then Neosho grabbed a three-point lead at 13-10. The Wildcats led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The teams literally traded buckets back and forth for the entirety of the second period. The lead changed hands seven times, and neither team led by more than two points during that time. Neosho’s Isaiah Green kept the Wildcats close, scoring 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.
In the second half, a couple of Republic’s seniors picked up the offensive load to help the Tigers pull away. Ahlante Askew scored seven points in the third quarter, and the defense buckled down on the Wildcats, allowing only seven points in the quarter. The Tigers built a 40-30 lead after three.
Senior Isaiah Nabors took off over a four-minute stretch at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter. He made two long-range shots fox six points, then went airborne and threw down a dunk after a no-look pass from Askew. That basket made the score 47-31, and Republic was firmly in control. The Tigers eventually led by as many as 19 points on the way to the 16-point win.
Askew led Republic with 19 points, and James Rexroat was also in double figures with ten.
Neosho finishes its season 19-8. The Tigers improve to 24-3. They’ll play Kickapoo in the district semifinals Friday at 7:30 pm. Kickapoo (2) beat Carthage (7) 74-54 in the quarterfinals. Nixa and Joplin will play the other semifinal before that game.
Score by Quarters
Neosho 13 11 7 9 – 40
Republic 12 12 16 16 – 56
Ahlante Askew 19, James Rexroat 10, Isaiah Nabors 8, Jordan Douglas 8, Khamari Edwards 4, Aslan Ebisch 3, Gunner Ellison 2, Brenley Hagewood 2