By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Republic turned away Webb City’s comeback attempt by making 12 of 13 free throws in the last 3 1/2 minutes of its 48-39 victory Friday night in a Central Ozark Conference Large Division matchup.
Forwards Grant Hancock and Cody Geiger each had 12 points for the Tigers (18-2), who are ranked No. 2 in Class 4 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
Republic led 28-17 early in the third quarter before Kohl Slaughter led No. 9 Webb City’s comeback by scoring 15 of his 21 points in the second half.
“It was a game of runs,” said Republic head coach Trevyor Fisher. “We did a nice job of getting second-chance baskets.”
Webb City senior guard Phoenix Johnson picked up his third foul on a charging call with 6 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half. His only points came on a last-second shot at the end of the first quarter that cut Republic’s lead to 14-7.
“Obviously, that was a big key,” Fisher said. “He does so much for his team on offense and defense. Not having him was big.”
The Cardinals came within 14-11 before Republic outscored Webb City 10-6 and went into halftime with a 24-17 lead. The Tigers scored six points in the first half directly off offensive rebounds.
“We had a lot of good looks that just didn’t go in,” said Webb City head coach Landon Cornish. “Defensively, we just kept battling.
“They were bigger. They were physical underneath,” he said. “We played hard underneath and we did what we could.”
Webb City (15-5), trailing 32-22 late in the third quarter, began its run with two baskets by Slaughter that pulled the Cardinals to within 32-26 going into the fourth quarter.
Slaughter then sank two free throws, scored on an offensive rebound, assisted on a basket by Logan Williams and hit a 3-pointer that gave Webb City its only lead, 35-34 with 3:46 to go.
“In the first half, we couldn’t get anything going,” Slaughter said. “In the second half, our offense became more fluid. We got back into the game, we just came up short.”
Republic regained the lead 37-35 on a three-point play by Hancock that began the Tigers’ 12 of 13 shooting from the line late in the game. Webb City tied the score at 37 on a basket by Slaughter, assisted by Nate Brown.
From there, Republic made 11 free throws while Webb City was limited to one field goal, a drive to the basket by Williams with 1:35 left. Williams and Brown each scored seven points.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said Hancock, who scored six of Republic’s first 10 points as the Tigers took an early 14-5 lead. “But we had to play our game and execute as best we could.”