Republic’s seniors with coach Kris Flood. The seniors are (left to right) Gracie Woods, Molly Blades, Alex Price, Alaina Norman, Molly Mason, Lauren Chastain, and Misora Nambara.

Remarkable Rally Seals Perfect COC Season on Senior Night

You can never, ever count these Lady Tigers out. Trailing by 11 points late in the third quarter, Republic went on a 27-7 run to come from behind and beat Carl Junction in the final game of the regular season, 47-41. The victory avenged Republic’s only COC loss from last season and clinched a perfect Central Ozark Conference (COC) season this year, securing Republic’s first outright conference championship since 2019.

“It’s just been kind of a calling card for them. They don’t really give up. They always feel like they’re in it,” coach Kris Flood said of his team’s comeback.

With three and a half minutes left in the third quarter, it looked like Republic would have to settle for sharing the COC title with second-place Nixa. Carl Junction’s expansive zone defense, coupled with cold shooting by the Lady Tigers, helped the Lady Bulldogs build a 31-20 lead.

Alex Price, one of seven seniors honored by Republic on Senior Night, lit the spark that ignited the comeback. Price’s three-pointer from the right wing cut Carl Junction’s lead back to single digits, 31-23. At the other end of the floor, Price intercepted a pass, leading to a three-pointer by Molly Blades that cut the lead to five. Republic trailed by seven points, 33-26, when the fourth quarter began.

Blades opened the fourth quarter with another three-pointer, and the momentum swung firmly toward the Lady Tigers. Republic stepped up its defensive pressure, trapping in the half court, diving after loose balls, and generally causing havoc on Carl Junction’s end of the court. After Carl Junction briefly got the lead to five points again, Price swished another three-pointer from the left wing with about six minutes remaining. That started a 10-0 run by Republic. Molly Blades followed Price’s trey with a three-pointer that put Republic ahead 37-36 with just over five minutes left. From there, Republic never trailed again.

“Once we hit some shots, it seemed like it opened up everything else,” Flood said. “The defense picked up, we got some loose balls going our way. We were fortunate to go down and hit some shots, and we hit enough free throws there.”

After trailing 23-18 at halftime, Republic held Carl Junction to just 18 points in the second half, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 29-18 over the final 16 minutes.

Before the game, Republic had recognized seven seniors: Misora Nambara, Lauren Chastain, Molly Blades, Alex Price, Gracie Woods, Alaina Norman, and Molly Mason. Flood said their experience pays off in situations like the team faced Thursday.

“It helps having that experience and those seniors,” he said. “And everybody on the bench was into it. It’s just been a really special regular season, but now we’ve flipped the page and we’ve moved into the postseason. Hopefully, we can keep this little run we’ve had ever since we flipped the calendar to 2024. It’s been tremendous.”

Republic finishes the regular season 21-4 and 9-0 in the COC. The Lady Tigers are seeded second in their district and open postseason play against Willard next Wednesday.

Score by Quarters
Carl Junction 11 12 10  8 - 41
Republic      11  7  8 21 - 47

Individual Scoring
Molly Blades 20, Alex Price 11, Misora Nambara 6, Lauren Chastain 4, Molly Mason 2, Alaina Norman 2, Lanney Strong 2


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