A dominant second quarter performance lifted Willard above Republic for a senior night win by a score of 61-42 on Tuesday night.
Republic led for most of the evenly matched eight-minute opener in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division battle, but Willard caught fire and expanded their lead from two to 16 points going into the half as the white and black Tigers went six of seven from the field and 10-for-12 from the free throw line.
Chris Kendrix led Willard in scoring with 31 points (15 in the second quarter alone) in the game, but the junior put the game in context with the rest of the season.
“It’s a good win but at the same time we’ve just have to be mature about it and keep growing and progressing on,” said Kendrix. “It’s a good feeling, but we’ve got to keep going on with Neosho on Friday.”
Kendrix also had four rebounds and a steal, and was complimented in scoring by senior forward Kolbe Kinghorn who had 13 points, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal in his last game at Willard High.
“It was senior night and we were excited and ready to play a tough opponent,” said Kinghorn.
Willard’s coach Lamont Frazier credited the success of Kendrix and Kinghorn to the support they get from others on the roster, such as brothers Cainen and Levi McGinnis whose contributions won’t necessarily appear on the scoring ledger.
“I’m probably harder on Cainen and Levi simply because I see those guys as being the key to both ends of the floor, so I want them to be the best they can be and to learn how to play the game for us to be successful,” said Frazier.
Cainen tied senior Landon Anderson as the third highest Willard scorer with six – all in the fourth quarter - and had three assists and two steals, while sophomore starter Levi McGinnis had three steals and a rebound.
After the game, Republic coach Trevyor Fisher said their Feb. 15 home game against Ozark could look reminiscent of Tuesday night’s contest against Willard.
“We’ve got to figure something out because it’ll be more of the same thing if we don’t –they’ve got guys that can shoot the ball and guys that can post up. We’ve gotta come out with a better fire and play with intensity like we’re used to,” Fisher said.
With the win Willard improves to 15-7 (3-2) on the season and will travel to Neosho on Feb. 15 while Republic moves to 19-4 (3-2).
Box Score Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Republic 8 9 10 12
Willard 10 23 10 18
Unofficial Player Scoring:
Republic: Dylan Bekemeier 12, Cody Geiger 8, Brock Yocum 7, Grant Hancock 7, Jake Fletcher 3, Marcus Miller 3, Canyon Smith 2.
Willard: C. Kendrix 31, K. Kinghorn 13, L. Anderson 6, C. McGinnis 6, Skyler Baker 2, Z. Barr 2, L. McGinnis 1.