After quite a wait, one school will finally get to hang a “Boys’ basketball state champions” banner again.
Saturday’s Class 4 final pitting Republic against Normandy features two schools that have gone a few generations without a state title.
Republic won its last and only state title in 1963. Normandy’s lone one came in 1951.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO FROM REPUBLIC'S 1963 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are five notes about the game, set for 3 p.m. at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
CLICK HERE FOR A RECAP OF REPUBLIC'S SEMIFINAL WIN
If you’d try to come up with a team the exact opposite of Republic, you might end up with Normandy.
While the Tigers are a methodical, half-court oriented offense, the Vikings utilize a frantic and relentless style.
Normandy had nearly twice as many shot attempts (65) in its overtime win over Sikeston on Thursday as Republic did (35) in its victory against Liberty North.
Playing well at the right time
Normandy was 11-7 late in the regular season. The Vikings have since won nine of their last 10 games, including their first district title since 2005.
Normandy has shown it can win in a variety of ways, whether low-scoring (39-36 over Miller Career Academy in sectionals) or high-scoring (74-72 over Sikeston in semifinals).
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF REPUBLIC'S SEMIFINAL WIN
Senior guard Kevin McLemore, the younger brother of KU star Ben McLemore, leads the Vikings with nearly 14 points per game. He shoots about 60 percent from the field and gets to the free throw line about six times per game.
Junior guard Gerard Fuller is Normandy’s lone 3-point threat, shooting 50-for-119.
Bryson Jenkins (6’3”), Koron Crump (6’4”) and Terrick Blair (6’5”) are Normandy’s top rebounders, an area Republic could have a big advantage.
While Republic doesn’t take a lot of shots, the Tigers get the most out of their possessions. They shot nearly 70 percent in the quarterfinal win over St. Francis Borgia.
The percent dropped to 35 percent against Liberty North, including 1-for-10 from 3-point range.
Republic will have to shoot a bit better from the outside to open up room for post players Grant Hancock and Marcus Miller.
It’s often a secondary or reserve player who makes the decisive shot or plays in these big games. Keep an eye on Republic reserves Canyon Smith and Ty Abney, who could swing the game in Republic’s favor by knocking down outside shots.
Trailing by one in the final seconds against Smithville, Republic got an open look from 3 for Smith. He missed, but the junior guard has hit several big shots for the Tigers this season.