Kaminsky Gym has been good to Brooke Stanfield and the Republic Lady Tigers.
In October Republic pulled off two upsets in one night, upsetting No. 2 Carl Junction and No. 1 Carthage to win the Class 4 – District 12 volleyball championship.
On Thursday, several of those same Lady Tigers laced 'em up and led Republic to a 59-34 win over Nixa to claim back-to-back Class 5 – District 12 championships for the first time in program history.
Republic entered as the No. 1 ranked team in Class 5 and riding an 16-game winning streak.
Many have anticipated a rematch with No. 2 Kickapoo in Sectionals, but for that to happen the Lady Tigers needed to beat a Nixa team that has won 12 of 17 since late December.
“We talked about it a little bit on the bus ride down that somehow we pulled it out in volleyball so who’s to say that won’t happen in basketball too,” said Stanfield. “But it’s kind of a relief. Flood is always saying that the playoffs don’t start until after districts because that’s when it starts getting real for everyone. The pressure is there, we hear about the state-rankings and that kind of put some pressure on us. I think we are figuring out how to handle it because we haven’t be in that spot before with this group of girls.”
Nixa made it interesting early with senior guard Shelby Ewing sandwiching a pair of jumpers between Taylor Arnold's 3, making it a 7-7 game early.
Republic led 9-7 when Nixa's Jenny Perryman called her first timeout of the game. The Lady Tigers then responded with a 29-4 run to end the half, effectively ending Nixa's threat.
Republic led 38-11 at the half.
“I thought the kids really executed our defensive scheme about as well as I could expect,” said Republic coach Kris Flood. “They were aggressive offensively, hit some shots, and when we didn’t we were able to get some second and third shots. They looked like they were focused and it showed in the way they played.”
The Lady Tigers were unthreatened in the second half.
Stanfield finished with a game-high 20 for Republic, leading three players in double figures. Brylee Argo added 14 and Alexis Ladwig scored 10.
Ewing finished with 12 points for Nixa.
After a 3-7 start, Nixa finished the season 15-12 and advanced to the district championship for the third straight year under Jenny Perryman.
The Lady Eagles will bring back several starters and letter-winners that played a major role in fighting the ship, including freshmen Taylor Arnold and Kelsy Biro.
“There’s a lot for us to look forward to,” said Perryman. “Getting so many freshmen, sophomores and inexperienced juniors minutes in this game will help us next year. To start the season 3-7 and make it to this game, with the schedule we play, is huge. This was a tough year at times, but if you look at the big picture this year was unbelievable. They are so excited and they’re already talking about next year.”
Republic advances to the Sectional round for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons.
Since winning the 2011 Class 4 state championship the Lady Tigers have gone 100-10, but have yet to make it back to Columbia.
Stanfield is hoping this is the year republic gets over the hump.
“We gotten to that quarterfinal game the last two years and it hasn’t gone our way so maybe the third time is the charm for us,” said Stanfield. “We will be disappointed if we don’t make it to Columbia this year after coming so close the last two years. It would be heartbreaking for all of us, especially with it being our senior year. We’ve been playing together since first or second grade in some cases. I love them to death and I want nothing more than to go to Columbia with them.”
For that to happen, Republic will have to be either state-ranked Kickapoo or Branson, two teams they beat earlier in the season in very close games.
Beating a good team is tough enough, beating them multiple times is one of the hardest things to do in sports. Flood knows that either rematch will offer its own challenges, but believes his senior-laden team will be up to the task.
“This is what happens when you hit playoff basketball,” said Flood. “You’re at that point where you just have to do what you can and hopefully come out on the right side. It’s nice to be in it and have a chance to continue on. The kids will be focused and they’ll be ready to go, whoever it is, and both will be a tough assignment.”
Republic will play the Kickapoo/Branson winner on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Republic 59, Nixa 34
Nixa 9-2-13-10 – 34
Republic 22-16-14-7 – 59
Nixa (15-12) – Ewing 12, Arnold 6, Wools 6, Goss 5, Wells 3, Liss 2.
Republic (25-1) – Stanfield 20, Argo 14, Ladwig 10, Kabetske 9, Fergen 5, Flood 1.