A rough stretch midway through the second game put the Republic Lady Tigers in a hole they couldn’t climb out of, as they ended their season with a close loss to Ozark in the state sectionals, 25-23 25-22.
Republic led early in both games before allowing Ozark to nab the momentum. In the second game, it was a key stretch when Ozark won five out of six points to take a 17-10 lead and nearly put the game away. But as they’ve done all year, Republic fought back. They scored four straight points to make the score 17-14, and eventually closed to within a point at 20-19. They stayed within a point until Ozark scored two straight at 23-22 to win the game and the match.
“We lost the momentum in that second game,” says coach Piper Wright. “We gave several points away in a row. We did a good job fighting back from it, but against a team like that, it’s very hard to fight back when you get down four or five points.”
In game one, both teams were sharp early. Republic jumped to a 6-3 lead, but Ozark tied it at 11, then took the lead for the first time at 12-11. The teams went back and forth, and were tied 23-23, but Ozark scored consecutive points to take the one-game lead.
Wright says despite the disappointing end to the season, she’s proud of the team–and the senior class, in particular.
“They’re some of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” says Wright. “Their leadership is unbelievable, not only on the court, but off the court. They just fight so hard, and some of them were leaders as juniors last year.
“It’s tough to lose them, and I hate that we didn’t make it farther for them, but they are the reason we’re so successful.”
Republic ends its season with a 28-8 record. Ozark improves to 26-7.