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A late lunch might have been weighing on the Pine Ridge girls’ basketball team a little heavy early against Lower Brule in Thursday’s quarterfinal game of the Lakota Nation Invitational basketball tournament.

Or it was just a slow start.

Regardless, the the Lady Thorpes never trailed, but struggled some in the first 10 minutes or so of the contest before coming on late in the first half and dominating the final 16 minutes, rolling to 62-35 victory at the Barnett Arena of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

“We came out a little flat today. I wasn’t very happy with our first half and I know what my girls are capable of,” Pine Ridge coach Laura Big Crow said. “We want to push the ball, we want to run the floor, we want to play a full-court defense.

“We went out to eat lunch late and it took a long time to get the food. We were definitely feeling it in the first half.”

Leading 20-14 with just under five minutes remaining in the first half, the Lady Thorpes went on an 11-2 run to close things out.

Kateri Weston scored six points, including a 3-pointer, and then a basket at the buzzer to give Pine Ridge a 31-16 halftime edge.

It was all Pine Ridge in the second half, as it outscored the Lady Sioux 14-3 in the first three-plus minutes to take control. The Lady Thorpes, with a strong inside-outside game by not only Weston but posts Matilda Anderson (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Taysha Big Crow (five points, nine rebounds), led by as much as 30 (51-21) before Laura Big Crow went to her bench in the last five minutes.

“I have about 10 girls on my team who I trust to score. We like to even out a little bit. I think we did a pretty good job once we got going,” Laura Big Crow said.

Big Crow said she has a well balanced team.

“I have a lot of shooters and I have a tough, strong inside game,” she said. “When one is not here, the other is. Let’s hope both are here (Friday night).”

Weston finished with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. 

“We just tried to get the ball to the post as much as I could and I tried to score as much as I could,” Weston said.

Maleighya Estes led Lower Brule, 2-1, with 12 points.

Laura Big Crow said she has a lot of new girls in the starting lineup and they are just learning to play with each other out on the court. Thursday’s game was the first of the season against another team other than St. Francis, as Pine Ridge opened the season last week with a 75-35 win over the Lady Warriors, before stopping the same St. Francis team 59-32 Wednesday in the LNI opener.

“It was rough and patchy, but every single game I see them coming together more and more,” she said.

Pine Ridge has just four seniors on the roster and relies heavily on a sophomore-junior starting lineup.

“We’re really young, but we’re also really smart,” Weston said. “We know how to play with each other.”

The Lady Thorpes are halfway through the LNI and will face Custer in today’s semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Pine Ridge last won the tournament in 2013.

“We’re hoping to be in that last game Saturday night, and walking away with it,” Laura Big Crow said.

The tournament is a good test for the team, Weston said, as their ultimate goal is to get back to the state tournament. It will take teamwork, she said, to achieve that goal.

“We have to work together as a team,” Weston said. “We just have to get better.”

Lower Brule, 2-1 on the season, faces Little Wound today at 9:30 a.m. in the consolation bracket.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.