Republic senior Alex Botkin scored 20 points, but none were more important than the two she scored with 7.7 seconds left in the game. Botkin hit two free throws to give Republic a 53-50 lead, and the Lady Tigers held on to win by that score, staying undefeated at 20-0.
Botkin led the Lady Tigers in scoring, and fellow senior Alice Heinzler added 19 points, as the two seniors came up big on a night when Republic needed them. With fellow senior Sarah Kreul on the bench with an injury, and another senior, Lindsey Carlson, sidelined with foul trouble, Botkin and Heinzler not only scored most of Republic’s points, they scored the most important ones.
All night, at key moments, one of the two hit an important shot as Nixa seemed ready to grab the momentum. A series of treys midway through the 3rd quarter–by Botkin, then Heinzler, then Botkin again–fought off one Nixa run. At the end of the 3rd period, when Nixa had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, Botkin stepped in front of a pass and scored a layup to make the lead 43-38 heading into the final period.
“We had to go with some different groups on the floor. More of a guard, sometimes five guards or four guards,” says coach Kris Flood. “We’re lacking a little depth at the post. We knew it was going to happen. In a mental way, they had it kind of in their minds what to expect and to be ready.”
Nixa never did go away, and tied the game at 45 apiece late in the 4th. Republic led 51-50 when the Lady Tigers threw the ball out of bounds, giving Nixa a chance to win in the final half-minute. But Alice Heinzler ran into a moving screen at the top of the key, officials called the foul, and Republic got the ball back. That’s when Botkin was fouled and drained her final two free throws. A long shot at the buzzer by Nixa was off the mark.
Flood says for the most part, he’s happy with how his team responded to another high-pressure situation.
“We got a little shaky, made a couple of quick shots that probably weren’t necessary,” he says. “That’s where we learn from it, and it rolls around district time or another conference game, and hopefully we know what to do the next time.”
Micah Mansker, getting her first varsity start, added seven points for the Lady Tigers. Michayla Shanks scored three, and Tori Taylor and Lindsey Carlson had two apiece.
Republic improves to 20-0 overall and 4-0 in Central Ozark Conference play. With the JV team winning 55-44, the Republic girls basketball teams are a combined 80-0.