Nixa scored 18 of the game’s first 20 points, led by 14 at halftime, and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 59-39 victory over Republic on Friday night. It marked Nixa’s seventh win in a row. The Eagles improved to 17-4 overall and are tied with Willard for the COC-Large lead at 4-0.
“We’ve been playing real well lately,” said Nixa coach Jay Osborne. “We’ve even played well in a couple of losses this season; we just didn’t win the game. We made shots. When you make shots, all phases of your game improve.”
Middleton was on the bench in street clothes, wearing tinted glasses. He played as recently as the team’s Tuesday night home win over Carthage. Osborne didn’t go into detail on Middleton’s status, saying he sat out as a “precaution.”
“Logan’s had a great year for us,” Osborne said. “Not having him tonight really gave us some concernes. But we had some guys step up tonight. Real team effort.”
Jacob Ruder knocked down two early 3-pointers to put Nixa in front 14-2. Republic finally broke out of its slump in the second quarter and got within nine, but a Wes Middleton trey pushed Nixa’s lead back to 26-12.
Nixa went with a big starting lineup that featured 6’4” guard Bryce Dulin, 6’4” Wes Middleton, 6’7” Jacob Ruder, 6’6” Chris Better and normal reserve Chase Allen, a 6”6 sophomore. That unit meant Nixa was usually taller at every position through the first three quarters.
“Those (three) are guys that can move. They’re not your typical lumbering big guys,” said Republic coach Trevyor Fisher.
The extra length paid off for the Eagles, who dominated the paint area. Nixa not only had a decisive rebounding edge, but also altered or changed many Republic shots. The Tigers missed at least a dozen shots within three feet of the basket over the course of the game.
“We missed some shots we normally make,” Fisher said. “Then we let those misses carry over to our defense.”
Republic (18-3, 3-1) had a small-spurt to get within 10 early in the third quarter. Nixa responded, pushing its lead back to 16 in the next two minutes.
Ruder scored a game-high 18 for Nixa. Cody Geiger was the lone RHS player in double figures with 10 points.
“I’m real proud of our guys. I thought we controlled the tempo, I thought we controlled the glass,” Osborne said. “I thought we did a really good job on guarding their shooters. That was huge. We didn’t give them many open shots.”
Nixa hosts Ozark on Tuesday. Republic welcomes COC-Large co-leader Willard to town the same night.
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