Republic senior guard Alice Heinzler has been battling tendonitis in her shooting hand through the early part of the season. However, her hand had little effect on her game Monday night as she lead her team to a 62-26 victory over Kickapoo.
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In a career-high effort, Heinzler scored 33 points in the Lady Tigers’ win. Though Heinzler had a game to be remembered, her team’s defense was the cause of her success.
“I really focused tonight and was confident in my shot,” said Heinzler.
Kickapoo committed 22 turnovers in the game, most of which lead to transition baskets or Republic setting up its half-court offense. The Lady Chiefs struggled defensively throughout the night, and especially in the transition game.
Republic jumped on the Lady Chiefs early in the contest, taking a 14-8 lead after the first quarter. One of the keys to the game the Lady Tigers wanted to address was shutting down Kickapoo’s two inside presences, sophomore Natalie Closser and junior Hannah Schumacher. Between sophomore Tori Taylor, junior Katherine Hankins and seniors Lindsey Carlson and Sarah Kruel, Republic was able to hold Closser and Schumacher to just 16 combined points.
“We made it a point of emphasis to front them and not let them catch the ball,” said Republic head coach Kris Flood. “Lindsey and Sarah did a good job on them and the team did a good job rotating behind them.”
From the end of the first quarter through the entire second period, Republic made it a habit of getting into the paint off of dribble penetration and getting to the foul line. Complimenting Heinzler’s outside game with a strong presence inside assisted in giving Republic a 13-point lead at halftime.
The Lady Tigers also implemented a full-court pressure defense that was the cause of the majority of Kickapoo turnovers. Add that style of defense to a mixture of zone and man-to-man half court defense, and it all equals a dominating effort by Republic in the first half.
“I thought we played smart defense and got steals in the second quarter that helped us stretch the lead out,” said Flood. “I thought we were prepared and ready to go tonight and that was the most focused we have been all season.”
Still in a position to potentially regain some momentum, the Lady Chiefs came out of the half with the hope of getting back into the game. Heinzler completely stopped all chances off a Kickapoo comeback in the third period. The Lady Tigers’ sharp shooting guard put up 16 points in the quarter. This doubled the scoring of the entire Kickapoo roster in the same time span.
“We got those defensive tips and they help the team get going on the offensive end of the floor,” said Heinzler.
After outscoring Kickapoo by 14 points in the third quarter and leading by 27 heading into the final period, the game was all but over. Coach Flood gave his shooter the opportunity in the final period to sit the bench most of the minutes so to rest and help develop much needed depth.
With the victory, Republic improves to an impressive record at 5-0, while Kickapoo falls to 3-3. Both Kickapoo and Republic will be participating in the Pink & White Lady Classic at Drury University beginning Dec. 26.