Ask any coach and they will tell you how important it is to defend your home court.
Trevyor Fisher’s Republic Tigers did just that, taking the 48th Republic Invitational Tournament 56-46 over Hillcrest Saturday afternoon at Republic High School. It was Republic’s third win in the past six days.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
“I’m just very happy for our kids. We played extremely hard, stuck to the game plan, and were able to make enough plays down the stretch to beat a very good Hillcrest team,” said Fisher.
Republic scored 12 of the game’s first 14 points, grabbing a 12-2 lead, forcing Hillcrest coach John Schaffer to call a timeout just three minutes into the contest. A pair of Roy Hardy trays would help settle the Hornets, allowing them to narrow the gap to 16-13 by the end of the quarter.
The second quarter would be an offense stale mate as each team would score just eight points, giving Republic a 24-21 advantage heading into the intermission. Despite Hillcrest taking their only lead of the game in the third quarter at 29-26, an 8-0 Republic spurt to end the period would give them a 34-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Although Republic led for virtually all of Saturday’s title game, the championship didn’t come without a little drama for the first year Republic head coach.
After Republic took its largest lead of the game at 45-31 on a Grant Hancock lay-up, the Hornets responded with a 9-2 run, capped by a Thomas Whitaker “and-one” pulling Hillcrest within seven at 47-40. Whittaker finished the game with 14 points, second to Juwan Johnson’s team-high 15 points.
However, the Hornets would get no closer after Republic junior guard Dylan Bekemeier buried his second three of the game, extending the lead back to 10 and giving the Tigers the momentum for good. Bekemeier would finish the game with 10 points.
Republic received 23 points from 6-foot-four junior forward Cody Geiger, nine of which came in the fourth quarter. Seniors Grant Hancock and Marcus Miller (6-foot-five and 6-foot-seven respectively) combined for just nine points, but did a great job rebounding and helping to anchor the backline of Republic’s 2-3 zone defense.
“We have got to get a post presence of some sort… Our margin for error is pretty small when you don’t have a post presence against 6’6”, 6’7” and 6’4”,” said Schaffer.
Another key to Republic’s win over the top seeded Hornets was their ability to slow down Thomas Whittaker. Whittaker had 33 points in Hillcrest’s semifinal victory over Rogersville.
“He’s an outstanding guard. He has great quickness and athleticism and is a great competitor,” said Schaffer.
Although this was Treyvor Fisher’s first tournament championship as a head coach, he fully understands the value of winning a tournament championship.
“Anytime you can win a tournament it’s a big deal. To get that experience and play three games in a short week it can prepare you for postseason to play,” said Fisher.
Republic (3-0) is idle until next Friday when they host Shiloh Christian (Ark.). Hillcrest (2-1) will visit Bolivar on Tuesday night.
Republic 16 8 10 22 -- 56
Hillcrest 13 8 8 17 -- 46
Russellville (Ark.) 67, Rogersville 61
After a heart-breaking 73-70 loss to Hillcrest in the semifinals Friday night, the Rogersville Wildcats came out flat and never recovered in a 67-61 loss to Russellville (Ark.) in Saturday’s third place game at the Republic Tournament.
Rogersville, who trailed 36-21 at the break, cut the Cyclone lead to five in a frantic fourth quarter comeback, but could get no closer.
Russellville was paced by Tony Jones’ 15 points. Rogersville received 18 points from senior Justus Boever and freshman guard Marcus Gorman.
The Wildcats (2-2) host Neosho Friday night in nonconference action.