Nixa senior Austin Ruder hit a last second 3-point shot to defeat the visiting Republic Tigers 43-41 Friday night. Ruder nailed the shot with about 1.5 seconds left in front of a raucous homecoming crowd.
The senior finished the night with a team-leading 17 points.
Ruder opened the game with a 3-pointer as well, and the Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Tigers had a chance to respond. The Tigers were able to step up defensively and keep the game in reach, with the score 14-10 in Nixa’s favor at the end of the first quarter.
Austin’s brother Jacob Ruder left the game early in the first with what appeared to be a shoulder injury and did not return.
The Eagles started to run away with the game in the second quarter, leading by as much as 12 points, before the clutch shooting of Republic senior Jake Fletcher helped the Tigers make up for lost ground.
The Tigers were within striking distance at the half, trailing only 28-24.
It was in the second half that the game got really interesting. Both teams stepped up defensively in the half and neither team scored more than 10 points in either quarter.
The Tigers tied the game in what was a tense fourth quarter. With 4:41 left Ruder fouled Republic Junior Dylan Bekemeier. Bekemeier then hit both free-throws and tied the game up at 39-39. Two minutes later Republic Junior Cody Geiger scored the basket that gave the Tigers the lead, 41-40.
Republic attempted to run the clock out before accidentally turning the ball over inside of a minute to play. Nixa also ran the clock down before giving the ball to the dangerous Ruder, who then won the game.
Ruder has committed to play at Missouri State University next season.
Nixa, who is ranked 3rd in the state, improved to 18-4 on the season and will travel to Ozark on the 12th. Republic fell to a still very respectable 18-3 and will host Ozark on the 14th.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Republic 10 14 9 8
Nixa 14 14 9 6
Nixa: Austin Ruder-17, Wes Middelton-5, Carney Wilmes-3, Chris Bettis-8
Republic: Dylan Beckemeier-6, Jake Fletcher-14, Marcus Miller-7, Canyon Smith-6, Grant Hancock-2, Cody Geiger-6