The celebration started for the White River boys' basketball team before the final buzzer had even sounded, and no one could blame it. The Tigers had just fought a battle to win the 2017 Lakota Nation Invitational title.
White River was able to hold off a fierce second half rally from Crow Creek to win in overtime, 73-69 for its first boys' title since 2014.
"All of the guys work hard everyday and good things happen," White River coach Eldon Marshall said. "They're a joy to coach everyday, so I'm grateful to be able to work with these guys."
White River led by as many as 18 in the second half, but Crow Creek was able to come all the way back to tie the score at 61 at the end of regulation.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone. We thought we were the older, more veteran team and they're a young team so we wanted to get them shook, but it happened the other way around," Crow Creek coach Billy Jo Sazue said. "At halftime we talked about becoming men, and no matter what happened in the second half, improving from the first. We had a lot of support here and we wanted to make our fans proud, and that's what spurred it."
In the opening minutes, Crow Creek was able to hang with White River, but that didn't last long.
Tyson Iyotte got hot from the field, and as he continued to shoot the Tigers continued to pull away. His 21 first-half points gave White River a comfortable 33-16 cushion at the break.
In the opening minutes of the second half it looked like it wasn't going to be the Chieftains night. White River's lead continued to grow, but Iyotte went down with a knee injury with less than 13 minutes to go.
That was the time for Crow Creek to strike, and strike it did.
The Chieftains got the game close, and Iyotte decided he had seen enough, and with 9:49 to go and his team leading by a less than comfortable eight points, he decided to go back in the game.
"My coach was wanting me to sit out, but I wanted to go in," he said.
Still, the combo of Luke Wells and Joe Sazue was not going to be stopped. Wells finished with 25 points and Sazue had 23, and the Chieftains refused to go away.
A tip-in on a rebound from Wells with less than 10 seconds left tied the game at 61. But on the next possession, Wells fouled John Petrik with under five seconds left. It was Wells fifth and final foul of the game.
Petrik, however, couldn't hit either of the two free throws, and the game went to overtime.
The overtime period featured big shots from both teams, but none were probably bigger than Iyotte's 3-pointer with 50.4 seconds left to put White River up 70-67.
"The whole first half I was pumping up my team, and we needed a shot," he said. "It just went in, and I got hyped off that."
That would be all the Tigers needed, as a hard-fought final game went their way.
"We've won this title multiple years, but it's been four years since we've won his tournament," Iyotte said. "Our team is like a family, and when we win something it's all together. It feels amazing."