Posted: Tuesday, 12 March 2013 8:51PM

Final Four Preview: Republic Tigers

Springfield, Mo. (  -- Republic High School finds itself in the Class 4 Final Four for the second straight year, this time with the boys’ team going up to Columbia. Can the Tigers make it two titles in a row for RHS?

How they got here – As the top seed, Republic won two district games by an average margin of 24 points. The Tigers had an easy time with Carl Junction in sectionals. Their 46-33 win over St. Francis Borgia was closer than the final score indicated.

Hidden edge – While some Class 4 schools face smaller Class 2 and 3 schools during conference play, the Tigers are always ready for postseason play after going through the rigorous Central Ozark Conference-Large Division that’s made up of mostly Class 5 teams.

Record examination - Republic’s lone Class 4 loss came in double overtime to Rogersville in the title game of Rogersville’s tournament. The Tigers (26-4 overall) nearly won at Nixa on Feb. 8. Their biggest stinker came in a 61-42 loss at Willard four days later. Republic boats non-conference wins over Hillcrest, Parkview and a 24-point beatdown of Strafford.

Scouting the opposition – The Tigers face Liberty North in the semifinals at 5:10 p.m. Thursday. Liberty North opened just three years ago but this will be the Eagles’ second straight appearance at state. They took third last year. The Eagles are led by 6’6” junior center Brinkley Jolly, who leads the Eagles in points and rebounds and figures to be matched up with Marcus Miller or Grant Hancock. Cody Geiger will likely draw Liberty North swingman Zach Starr. Six-foot-senior Nadhir Daughtery is Liberty North’s biggest backcourt threat.

The Tigers win if… - Miller contains or matches Jolley in the post, Geiger can out-score Starr and Republic’s backcourt can keep the Eagles’ defense honest by knocking down 3-pointers.

The Tigers lose if… - Liberty North controls the paint area (the Eagles boast similar height to that of Republic), outside shots aren’t falling for Republic, and the Eagles’ defense collapses on Miller and Geiger on the inside.

The winner of Republic-Liberty North faces Sikeston or Normandy in the title game at 3 p.m. Saturday. The third place game is at noon Friday.

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The Tigers won their opening game of the season in front of 60,000 people.

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