Republic’s undefeated record pretty much serves as a Bullseye for opposing teams.
Nixa was the latest to take its best shot at Republic, pushing the Lady Tigers to the brink at home Thursday night.
Republic overcame a second-half explosion from Nixa sophomore Toshua Leavitt to escape with a 53-50 victory.
“Every team we play, they’re coming at us and playing hard,” said Republic coach Kris Flood. “They want to be, I guess, that one (to beat us).”
Republic was close to suffering its first loss since last February.
Nixa trailed for most of the game but pulled even midway through the fourth quarter thanks to the hot hand of Leavitt. Her 3-pointer tied the game 45-45 with 5:30 remaining.
Nixa had a chance to send the game into overtime on the final play, running a full-court play for Leavitt with 7.7 seconds remaining. Leavitt pulled up a few feet from behind the 3-point arc on the right wing, but her shot was no good and Nixa couldn’t get off another perimeter attempt before time expired.
“We got a play to get a look at the end,” said Nixa coach Jim Middleton. “No complaints about that whatsoever. We ran it well. To do that against a great defense, I was very pleased to get it. You hope that you can get what you can get in that amount of time. You know you have to shoot a 3, so the defense cane prepare for that, as opposed to a 2-pointer where you have the whole floor to deal with it.”
Republic never trailed in the fourth quarter, benefiting from perfect shooting at the free throw line. The Lady Tigers were 8-for-8 at the line in the fourth quarter.
A Leavitt 3-pointer brought Nixa within 51-48 with 2:30 remaining. She added a short baseline jumper a minute later to make it 51-50.
Republic tried to burn clock on its ensuing possession but wound up committing a turnover. Nixa tried to set up for a potential go-ahead shot, but senior guard Jeana Raper was called for an offensive foul.
Republic senior Alex Botkin, who had a game-high 20 points, followed with two free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining to extend the Lady Tigers’ lead to 53-50.
“We got a little shaky there, maybe in some decisions, taking some quick shots that probably weren’t necessary,” Flood said. “That’s where we’ll learn from it. When district time rolls around, hopefully we don’t make those same mistakes.”
The Lady Tigers improved to 20-0, playing without injured varsity contributors Sarah Kreul and Baylee Rayl. Republic travels to Willard on Monday.
“We had to go with some different groups on the floor,” Flood said. “We had five, sometimes four guards on the floor. We’re little right now, lacking a little depth in the post.”
Nixa (19-4) plays at Ozark on Monday.
“Toward the end of the season, you get in these big conference games and you really see where you are and what you’re made of,” Middleton said.
Republic 53, Nixa 50
Republic 13 12 18 10 --- 53
Nixa 4 14 20 12 --- 50
Republic – Alex Botkin 20, Alice Heinzler 19, Micah Mansker 7, Michayla Shanks 3, Lindsey Carlson 2, Tori Taylor 2
Nixa – Jeana Raper 15, Toshua Leavitt 14, Angie Allen 11, Shelby Ewing 7, Alexis Holt 3
Republic B 55, Nixa B 44