The Lady Tigers put the clamps on Mt. Vernon in a decisive third quarter to win 54-41 on Thursday night in the title game of the Aurora Tournament.
Republic led 23-22 at intermission and started the second half with a 10-0 run. Mt. Vernon didn’t score until Mackenzie Farmer’s basket five minutes into the third quarter.
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After a back-and-forth first half that saw Republic struggle against Mt. Vernon’s matchup 2-3 zone, the Lady Tigers got points off turnovers with their full-court press.
“We had to create something to come up with a basket somehow, whether it was off a steal or on offensive rebound,” said Republic coach Kris Flood. “Just to get out of here with a win and a championship, we’re very pleased with that, especially for it being the first week. We still have a long way to go.”
A steal off its full-court press led to an Alice Heinzler layup and a 33-22 lead for Republic. Mt. Vernon never got closer than eight points the rest of the game.
“They like to press a lot and get in man-to-man in full court,” said Lady Mountaineers coach Jamie LaSalle. “Their man-to-man defense is great in the half-court game, too. We figured they’d be pretty aggressive. They play 10 girls, we play about seven. So we knew they’d be more aggressive because they can afford some fouls.”
The first half was tight between Missouri’s Class 3 (Mt. Vernon) and Class 4 (Republic) defending state champions.
A 3-pointer from senior guard Audrey LaSalle gave Mt. Vernon an 18-16 lead and prompted a timeout from Flood. Farmer made a jumper before the first-half buzzer for Mt. Vernon, and Republic’s Alex Botkin banked-in her jumper as time expired in the third.
Heinzler led Republic with 14 points, and Farmer scored 16 for Mt. Vernon.
“I thought maybe we could make this game to where we start getting up and down the court and running a little bit since we were struggling so much against their zone in that first half,” Flood said. “We still had a lot of turnovers, several of them unforced.”
And we didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. But to their credit, a lot of it had to do with Mt. Vernon. They played well defensively, did a really good job in that matchup zone.”
Republic outscored Mt. Vernon 15-7 in the third quarter.
“They came out and stepped up their defense and didn’t give us any open looks,” LaSalle said. “We didn’t get anything done. We turned the ball over too much. But I think that’s a testament to them being a great defense.”
Mt. Vernon plays Monday night at Nixa. Republic is off all of next week, returning to action Dec. 10 at home against Central.
Republic 54, Mt. Vernon 51
Mt. Vernon 8 14 7 12 --- 41
Republic 11 12 15 16 --- 54
Mt. Vernon – Mackenzie Farmer 16, Tamiaya Henderson 8, Audrey LaSalle 8, Laynie Dake 4, Megan Pope 3, Blair Tettenhorst 2
Republic – Alice Heinzler 14, Sarah Kreul 11, Alex Botkin 8, Kayla Bartelsmeyer 8, Lindsey Carlson 5, Micah Mansker 3, Michayla Shanks 2, Tori Taylor 2, Baylee Rayl 1