It was a long time coming, both in the number of years it took for the Red Cloud girls to finally knock off their archrivals and the number of quarters it took Saturday night for the Lady Crusaders to wear the Pine Ridge ballhandlers down.
But in the end, the full-court defense did break the Lady Thorpes down, causing multiple turnovers down the stretch and a mental lapse that turned into a six-point play as Red Cloud rallied to knock off Pine Ridge 67-65 in a thrilling girls high school basketball game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Red Cloud trailed 47-39 early in the fourth quarter before erupting on a 16-2 run that swung the momentum, the Lady Crusaders’ recent fortunes against Pine Ridge and eventually the game. The win was Red Cloud’s first victory over the Lady Thorpes in more than a decade, dating back to a 2001 district playoff game.
“It feels amazing,” Red Cloud senior Tiarra Little said. “To finally get a win senior year, I was just really happy to see all the young girls step up. It was great to finally get a win over our rivals.”
The game turned quickly in the fourth quarter. After the ‘Saders’ Samantha Weston scored to cut the lead to 47-41, Red Cloud’s Terra Garnier was fouled by Pine Ridge’s Sharay Brewer. Garnier went to the floor as a result of the contact and Brewer kicked her, which earned Brewer a technical foul. Red Cloud hit all four free throws, and Garnier scored a bucket for a six-point trip that sent any bit of momentum that may have been on the Pine Ridge side squarely over to Red Cloud.
The two teams exchanged buckets on the next two possessions before three Red Cloud free throws gave the Lady Crusaders (9-9 overall) a 52-49 lead. That was when 5-foot sophomore Cecelia Two Lance, the smallest player on the floor, made one of the game’s biggest plays.
She ventured into the lane to corral an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to fellow sophomore Christi Sioux Bob, who calmly drained a 3-pointer — one of two she hit over the last couple of minutes — on her way to a team-high 24 points. Two Lance, Sioux Bob and fellow sophomore Myriam Rama also combined to wreak havoc on the Thorpe ballhandlers, forcing numerous fourth-quarter turnovers.
“We took two of our forwards out and put in the three guards,” Red Cloud head coach Jason Locust said. “We knew that (Pine Ridge) had lost a few guards and that that pressure would start to get to them.”
Pine Ridge made a valiant effort in rallying on the back of some big late shots by Anissa Martin, but the Thorpes (14-5 overall) simply couldn’t overcome the 13-point deficit that the Crusaders built up on a second Sioux Bob 3-pointer with just under 2 minutes to play.