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Ozark offense not able to get on track in District semifinal defeat at hands of Republic

OZARK'S SYDNEY HAMPTON battles for possession of the ball in a Class 6 District 5 semifinal Saturday.
OZARK'S SYDNEY HAMPTON battles for possession of the ball in a Class 6 District 5 semifinal Saturday.

Points proved hard to come by for Ozark in its Class 6 District 5 52-41 semifinal loss to Republic on Saturday.

Ozark managed just 24 points through the first three quarters, while falling behind by 16 points, and finished 15-of-40 shooting from the field

“It was really hard to score,” guard Macey Sult said. “We had all the confidence in the world that we could win. We were all working our tails off on defense, both teams were.”

"Two teams that guard well, it was a defensive struggle,” Ozark coach Brandon Clift said.

Ozark’s defense flustered Republic’s Kaemyn Bekemeier, as she was 3-of-13 from the field. But as often seems to happen with star players, the Missouri State signee got to the free-throw line much more than anyone else and was 8-of-10 on her freebies to finish with 14 points.

“Our goal was to limit her as much as we could,” Clift said. “You can’t stop her. She’s going to get to the free-throw line. Credit to her teammates, they hit some big shots.”

“We did a good job shutting her down,” Sult said. “(Her) teammates stepped up.”

Republic’s Molly Blades hit a trio of 3-point goals and scored 12 points..

Ozark’s Jordyn Foley and Sydney Hampton combined for 26 points.

Ozark missed its first six field-goal attempts, but still found itself on top 11-8 after the first quarter, thanks to five offensive rebounds in the opening quarter.

Ozark had just two offensive rebounds over the final three quarters.

“Republic picked up their intensity on trying to make sure they got those defensive rebounds,” Clift said.

An 18-all tie turned into a 38-24 Republic lead, as the winners enjoyed. 20-6 run that stretched from the final two minutes of second quarter to the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.

Republic didn’t let Ozark rally by making 18-of-24 free throws.

Ozark (15-13) committed 13 turnovers, including five in the fourth quarter.

“Those are possessions we needed,” Sult said.

“We had some empty possessions,” Clift said. "We had a couple unforced turnovers during that run and they made some contested shots.

“I don’t think there was a kid on this team who expected to be going home,” he added. “We felt like we had good chance to win. It’s heartbreaking, especially for the seniors who have put in so much time to our program and dedicated so much of their efforts.” 

For seven Ozark seniors, this was their finale.

“I love every one of those seniors,” Sult said. “They are great leaders. I’m so said I can’t play with them again.” 

Republic 52, Ozark 41

OZARK (41) — Foley 6 2-3 14, Hampton 4 3-6 12, Sult 2 0-0 5, Rushing 2 4-4 8, Soloman 1 0-0 2.

REPUBLIC (52) — Nambora 1 5-6 8, Chastain 2 1-2 5, Blades 4 1-2 12, Norman 4 1-2 9, Bekemeier 3 8-10 14, Mason 1 2-2 4.

Ozark     11  7  6 17 - 41

Republic 8 12 11 21 - 52

3-point goals - Blades, Hampton, Sult, Nambora.