Nixa High School basketball coach Jim Middleton can be excused for initially forgetting about Nixa’s most memorable 3-point basket Friday in the postgame interview.
Besides, after watching his team put on a 3-point barrage rivaling any in the Ozarks this winter, Angie Allen’s swished half-court shot at the third-quarter buzzer blended in with the team’s 12 triples.
That shooting lifted Nixa to another improbable victory, a 64-55 upset of rival Ozark in the Class 5 District 11 final at Branson High School.
Middleton’s team did not make a two-point basket after halftime, coupling seven 3-pointers with 11 made free throws.
“I forgot all about that one (by Allen). … Yeah, that was big,” Middleton said. “We don’t live and die by the three, but we certainly have enough people who can’t hit threes, as we showed.”
On Tuesday, Jeana Raper shot the Lady Eagles back into the semifinal game against Branson. Nixa trailed by 17 points with less than 4 minutes to play and won with a 20-1 closing run.
On Friday, the senior did not wait until late to show off her long-range prowess.
She drained eight 3-pointers, finishing with a career-high 30 points despite not making a two-point field goal.
“We all had one thing on our mind, and that was to upset Ozark,” said Raper, who was 8 of 11 from 3-point range, 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and 0 for 3 on twos.
“But I definitely missed almost every shot in warmups. I was starting to get a little scared in the beginning. But coach tells me to keep on shooting.”
Nixa (23-5) will play Parkview at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Bolivar’s Southwest Baptist University.
The Lady Eagles finished 12 of 19 (63 percent) from 3-point range. But for Ozark coach Yancey Little, Allen’s half-court shot to extend a one-point deficit to 44-40 entering the fourth was a microcosm of the night.
“We had kind of fought back into it, and then they hit that,” Little said. “You can’t defend that. You can’t make excuses for that. It was Nixa’s night, it really was.”
Moments after hugging her father, Missouri State University football coach Terry Allen, Angie Allen relayed her doubts about the shot.
“I don’t think I could ever do that again in my life,” she said after scoring 19 points. “I felt like it was good. I felt like it had the distance, but I didn’t think it was going in.”
Middleton also pointed to Nixa’s final 3-pointer, a shot from the corner by Madison Wells to put her team up 55-46 with 3:30 to play, as being as big as any for the Lady Eagles.
Raper’s six free throws then followed. Nixa made 11 of 15 (73 percent) free throws in the fourth quarter, and 14 of 19 (74 percent) in the game.
Ozark (20-7) will graduate an accomplished class of five seniors that led the program to two straight district championships.
But the Lady Tigers will return one of the state’s best juniors in Hannah Cook, who led Ozark with 20 points, along with a crop of rising talent from the program’s lower levels.
For Nixa athletics, it’s another memorable night in a week full of them, including the boys knocking off Ozark on Thursday night in their rubber match, along with Tuesday’s Raper-led dramatics against Branson.
“Coach Middleton said at practice that Tuesday will be the game we’ll remember our whole lives,” Raper said. “But I honestly think, tonight, my first district title … I’d take this win. Any day.”