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Republic got a game-high 21 points from senior forward Cody Geiger and defeated Hazelwood Central in convincing fashion 68-53 as part of the Route 66 Classic played at Waynesville High School. The Tigers built a big lead early, taking a 23-8 lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 21 points early in the second half before Hazelwood Central rallied in the third quarter to pull within 15 points.
"It was a good win against a really good opponent," Republic head coach Trevyor Fisher said. "We came out in the first half and took it to them. We executed offensively and did a good job defensively of limiting them to one shot.
"Those are two things that we talked about. Very proud of the way we started and our effort overall."
Hazelwood Central (3-1) entered the game coming off a championship of the Vianney Tournament. The Hawks featured a big front line, including 6-foot-6 junior Marcus George and 6-foot-5 sophomore Dominique Dobbs, as well as 6-foot-5 sophomore Xavier Sneed.
But the Tigers were able to limit the Hazelwood Central front line to a combined 13 points and were able to keep the rebounding margin close (the Hawks outrebounded Republic, 30-26).
Geiger, the Tigers main option in the paint at both ends of the floor, led Republic with eight rebounds and was 9 for 16 from the field.
"They are big and athletic, but Cody (Geiger) has such a quick release and quick feet, we felt like he would have success," Fisher said. "They are bigger, but not as quick as we were able to get points in situations."
The Tigers were 7 for 13 from the 3-point arc, and shot 48 percent from the field. Dylan Bekemeier added 17 points, five assists and five rebounds, and Canyon Smith added 16 points.
Republic (6-0) will look to capture its second tournament championship and its third consecutive Blue and Gold championship. The Tigers won its home tournament, and also boast wins over Glendale and Cassville.
The Tigers will open play in the 68th Blue and Gold tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face Willow Springs in the opening round at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 at JQH Arena in Springfield.
"It has been a good start against quality opponents," Fisher said. "But the first part of the season is over now and we're going to go on to the Blue and Gold and then the (COC) conference season.
"We are playing well right now, but we can still get better and keep going."
Route 66 Classic
REPUBLIC 68, HAZELWOOD CENTRAL 53
on Friday, at Waynesville High School
Republic 23 15 14 16 — 68
Hazelwood Central 8 16 13 16 — 53
Republic (6-0) —Dylan Bekemeier 17, Brock Yocum 5, Chase Hoffman 6, Cody Geiger 21, Canyon Smith 16, Jordan Kerr 3.
Hazelwood Central (3-1) — Clifton Yancy 4, Demarco Buchanan 15, Steve Holloway 10, Marcus George 4, Dominique Dobbs 4, Quaron Gooch 7, Eddie White 4, Xavier Sneed 5