By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. — Republic’s magical run through the postseason came up just short Friday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers fell 42-29 to North Kansas City in the Class 5 semifinal round.
Republic shot 14 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed by as many as 13 points early in the third period before Savana Powell-Goodman helped spark a rally.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore reserve scored 8 of her team-high 10 points in the quarter — including a pair of 3-pointers — as Republic cut the deficit to 27-24.
Unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, North Kansas City answered with late push of its own to steal momentum back for good.
Head coach Kris Flood lamented Republic’s inability to hang onto momentum and extend its late-game run.
“We just just seemed like we could not get over that hump and just, really, grab hold of momentum and just keep it,” Flood said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened like that, but we don’t have a ton of experience. We’re a fairly young group and, hopefully, we just build from it.”
While Republic’s press was able to force 26 turnovers in the game, Flood’s squad was unable to capitalize on the offensive end.
“I thought we executed well on our defensive part,” Flood said. “We created several turnovers; we were getting stops. On the other end, we we really struggled to put the ball in the basket today.”
Republic’s shooters struggled to find open looks, and second-chance opportunities were minimized by the suffocating, Lady Hornets defense.
“I give credit to North Kansas City,” Flood said. “They can get out and guard and really contest. They could cover our penetration — if we went to our five guard type look or spread, they were able to contain.”
Republic’s Halli Bartelsmeyer attributed some of the shooting woes to North Kansas City’s surprising speed-size combo.
“The major thing is they’re really long and super lanky,” Bartelsmeyer said. “We’re used to that, but they’re also very quick, too, so I don’t think we’re really used to that one. Usually, when we have a taller group, they’re kind of slower — but these girls were pretty quick.”
Republic also had few answers at the defensive end for the LaJahda Boyland puzzle.
The 5-foot-11 forward went to work early and often for North Kansas City, finishing with a game-high 20 points.
After the game, Flood discussed the importance of getting his team prepared for the quick turnaround.
Republic (22-9) will face Parkway Central in Saturday’s third-place game.
“We have an opportunity to bounce back here — it’s not a one and done situation,” Flood said. “Granted, it’s not the game you want to be in once you get to this point, but we’re looking forward to coming out — I would assume that this group will compete hard — we want to finish with a with a win.”
Senior Anna Bell echoed her coach’s thoughts.
“I think, as of right now, we kind of have our heads down a little bit because we believe that they were definitely a beatable team,” Bell said. “But we have to stay positive and try to end our season on a good note by winning tomorrow.”
Class 5 semifinal: North Kansas City – 42, Republic – 29
North KC 13 09 09 11 — 42
Republic 08 04 12 05 — 29
North Kansas City scoring: LaJahda Boyland – 20, Ja’mya Powell-Smith – 12, JaLena Kelsey – 5, Chandler Prater – 4, Mackenzi Callaway – 1
Republic scoring: Savana Powell-Goodman – 10, Clara Fronabarger – 9, Halli Bartlesmeyer – 4, Delaney Smith – 3, Jade Kirby – 2, Jazzy Kirby – 1