Going in, one two-game winning streak will not see three, while another is shooting for a triple this week at the 41st Annual Lakota Nation Invitational boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
There won’t be a three-peat for Winnebago, Neb., boys’ team, as the Indians aren’t entered to compete this season after dominating the field the past two tournaments.
For the Little Wound girls’ team, the drive for three straight is very much alive although the Mustangs are off to a bit of a slow start in just the second week of the 2017-2018 season.
Action begins today at 10 a.m. in both the Barnett Arena and Ice Arena of the Civic Center, with the respective title games set for 7 p.m. (girls) and 8:30 p.m. (boys) Saturday night. In all, 64 games will be played in the four-day tournament, with some scattered consolation action also scheduled for St. Thomas More and the Boys’ Club gymnasium.
There should be some interesting battles in both divisions. Several teams come into the tournament off perfect starts in the boys’ tournament. They’ll be glad to not see Winnebago, which ran past Red Cloud 97-51 last season for its second consecutive title.
Among the pre-tournament favorites look to be Red Cloud, Pine Ridge and Crow Creek.
Red Cloud, under head coach Christian McGee, opened the season last weekend with a convincing 78-57 win over Hill City. The Crusaders have finished second in two of the last three tournaments.
Across town, the Pine Ridge Thorpes look to make a run, with the LNI being the first action of the season for Corey Shangreaux’s squad. The Thorpes were 17-6 last season, coming one game from qualifying for the state tournament.
Both Red Cloud and Pine Ridge received votes in the South Dakota Media poll this past week.
Crow Creek is off to a nice start this season, running out to a pair of lop-sided wins, 72-53 over Flandreau Indian and 76-47 over Little Wound.
Hank Taken Alive’s McLaughlin team is also 2-0 on the season, with two impressive wins, 65-53 over Herreid/Selby Area and 73-37 over Lemmon.
Another team to look at in the boys’ division is Eldon Marshall’s White River team, which finished sixth at last year’s Class B state tournament. The Tigers opened the season with an 82-43 win over Jones County. Marshall and White River have four LNI titles to their credit.
Todd County is also 2-0 with wins over Valentine, Neb. (71-52) and Bennett County (76-54), while Cheyenne-Eagle Butte won its opener over Miller 62-55.
Today’s first-round boys’ matchups include: Red Cloud vs. Marty, 10 a.m.; Pine Ridge vs. Omaha Nation, 11:30 a.m.; White River vs. Standing Rock, 1 p.m.; Crow Creek vs. Crazy Horse, 2:30 p.m.; Little Wound vs. Tiospa Zina, 4 p.m.; Lower Brule vs. Todd County, 5:30 p.m.; Cheyenne-Eagle Butte vs. Custer, 7 p.m. and McLaughlin vs. St. Francis, 8:30 p.m.
On the girls’ side, Little Wound has been the team the beat the last two seasons, but is off a bit of a slow start, losing its season opener to Crow Creek 73-61 last week. In last season’s title game, the Lady Mustangs and head coach Lyle Lebeaux Jr., ran past Pine Ridge 63-31.
Among the girls’ favorites this season look to be Pine Ridge, Red Cloud, Todd County, Crow Creek and Custer.
Laura Big Crow and the Lady Thorpes won their season opener St. Francis Indian 75-35, the team it will open the tournament with today.
Red Cloud opened with a 71-56 home win over Hill City, while Todd County is 2-0 on the young season after two dominating wins, 74-24 over Valentine and 78-29 over Bennett County. Bob Boyd Jr.’s team won the 2014 title and finished second in 2015 to Little Wound.
Crow Creek is also 2-0, stopping Flandreau Indian 69-21 and Little Wound. Another girls’ squad to look at is McLaughlin, which won its opener 65-53 over Herreid/Selby Area.
Custer is 1-0 this season after a 64-34 victory over Newcastle, Wyo.
Today’s first-round girls’ games at the Ice Arena include: Little Wound vs. Crazy Horse, 10 a.m.; Todd County vs. Marty, 11:30 a.m.; Pine Ridge vs. St. Francis, 1 p.m.; Red Cloud vs. White River, 2:30 p.m.; Custer vs. Standing Rock, 4 p.m.; Cheyenne-Eagle Butte vs. Tiospa Zina at 5:30 p.m.; McLaughlin vs. Lower Brule at 7 p.m. and Crow Creek vs. Omaha Nation, 8:30 p.m.