By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Last season proved to be a magical one for Republic, as the 22-10 Lady Tigers mounted a deep postseason run that took them all the way to a fourth-place finish in Class 5.
Head coach Kris Flood, set to begin his 21st season at Republic, hopes his team is able to build on the experience as it prepares for the 2019-20 campaign.
“I feel like once the kids bought into what they were capable of doing is when we really started to play well,” Flood said. “I look for them to really come back this season ready to go and hopefully play well. There are several kids that were keys to our run that are back this year.”
Graduated seniors Anna Bell, Halli Bartlesmeyer and Avylina Powell-Qualo depart the program.
Powell-Qualo will continue her basketball career at Evangel this season.
“These three were key leaders all year and were great assets to our program both on and off the court,” Flood said.
Despite the trio of graduate losses, Republic’s cupboard is well-stocked with experienced playmakers this season and will be led by a trio of returning starters in senior Jade Kirby, senior Delaney Smith and junior Clara Fronabarger.
Fronabarger is currently recovering from an ACL tear, according to Flood.
Additional returning lettermen include senior Shealyn Barrett, senior Carlie Ward, junior Jazzy Kirby and junior Savana Powell-Goodman.
Newcomers expected to challenge for varsity minutes include junior Kaitlyn Ragsdale, senior Whitney Weaver and freshman Kaemyn Bekemeier.
What Republic’s lineup lacks in size — the tallest player on the roster is Ward at 5-foot-10 — it more than makes up for with speed and defensive play.
“I feel like our team speed and defense has a chance to be part of our strengths,” Flood said. “I also feel like if we can shoot consistently our outside play might be a strength. We will work as a staff to make us a solid on both ends of the floor as the season progresses.”
Flood also noted his team’s defensive effort must remain consistent in order to endure possible lulls on offense.
“Challenges could come early find the rotation to get the right chemistry to make us successful,” Flood said. “Getting us in situations where we can score on a consistent basis because scoring may be tough on us at times. Must play defense the entire game in case we run into this.”
A challenging conference and district schedule should, once again, have Republic battle-tested and ready to challenge when the knockout games roll around. Flood believes his team compares favorably with last season’s group and should remain competitive throughout the season.
“I look for us to be a lot like last year we will always play and compete hard each night,” Flood said. “If we can do this we will be in several games giving us a chance to win. We always want to give ourselves a shot at the COC and hopefully be peaking at the end of the year to make a postseason run.”
Republic opens its season Nov. 26 at home against St. Louis Gateway.