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REPUBLIC — Neosho head coach Grant Berendt called his team’s defensive performance on the road on Monday one the best in his four years at the school, but the Republic Lady Tigers rallied for a 59-52 win to improve to 9-9.
However, Berendt says the Lady Wildcats, who fell to 12-5 overall with the loss, had some solid minutes of play — especially at the defensive end.
“We followed our scouting report to a ’T’ and we executed everything,” Berendt said. “Republic probably missed some shots that they typically make and that helped us a bit, but we knew what knew what they had to do and if you watch a coach Flood coached team you know they are going to amp it up and bring pressure.
“We knew it was coming, we just didn’t do a very good job of handling that and it altered us and some of the things we were going to do.”
The second half saw Republic put together a better shooting performance and pull away with the win.
Neosho is a senior-laden team that starts five seniors and brings another off the bench and are now 1-2 in league play with a win over rival Webb City and a loss to Nixa. The Lady Wildcats advanced to the championship game of the Sedalia and Carl Junction tournaments, and played for third-place at the Neosho Tournament.
“We’re very scrappy and very versatile,” Berendt said. “We’re an undersized team that tries to play a faster-paced game and we try to get the speed of the game in our favor.
“We have kids that play hard and can score inside.”
Makayla Hayes is the Lady Wildcats’ leading scorer and was a first-team All-COC Large selection last season — one of only two juniors to make the first team last season.
Jordan was a second-team All-COC Large as a sophomore, but missed her junior season due to injury after suffering an ACL injury three weeks before the season.
Allison Burr was an all-district player as a freshman and has put together a solid career for the Wildcats. The Lady Wildcats’ starting point guard is Ashley Talley, while Tori Frazier is a standout athlete who is headed to Missouri Southern to play softball.
Senior Emilee Kivett comes off the bench to give the team solid minutes, while junior Madison Flynn is a skilled 5’6 wing player who brings a versatile skill set to the court.
Berendt says the team’s biggest key to winning games this season has been on the boards where they have struggled to win games when they’ve lost the rebounding battle. The Lady Wildcats gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Republic on Monday, something that was on Berendt’s mind after the game.
“Us being so small, we can’t give second, third and fourth chances like we did tonight,” Berendt said. “Sixteen offensive rebounds to (Republic) is a recipe for disaster.”