In the first game of the year for both teams, Rapid City Stevens trailed visiting Brandon Valley by 19 points early in the second quarter before coming back to win.
Thursday’s opening round game of the Class AA state boys' basketball tournament resulted in a reversal of roles and fortune as the Lynx bounced back from an eight-point deficit at halftime to defeat the Raiders 58-47 Barnett Arena.
Stevens had the hot hand early capitalizing on back-to-back treys by Joe Bennett and Dylan Pourier to jump out to an 8-2 lead in the first three minutes. And 6-foot-7 junior center Mason Steele added a couple of conversions in the paint to stall a Brandon Valley rally as Stevens led 14-9 after the opening period.
The margin might have been considerably more had not 6-8 junior Gavin Terhark responded for the Lynx. A 5.2 points a game scorer during the season, Terhark lit it up in the second frame tallying nine points including a step-back 3-pointer at the top of the key as Brandon Valley closed the tap to 21-20 with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter.
“If we didn’t have him in the first half, we would have been in major, major trouble,” Brandon Valley coach Brent Deckert said. “In fact, Stevens would have certainly run away with it if it hadn’t been for Gavin. He’s always been a very good offensive player, and when given the opportunity, that’s what good players do.”
The Raiders parried the Lynx second period thrust with a 10-3 run to close out the half. A offensive rebound conversion by Tad Scherbenske, a 3-ball by Daniel Vigoren, another by Pourier, and a reverse layup by Pourier as time expired gave Stevens a 31-23 lead at intermission.
“I thought in the first half we really executed the game plan well (the Raiders shot 54 percent from the field in the first half including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc), though we didn’t rebound very well," Stevens coach Chris Stoebner said. "That was kind of our Achilles heel tonight as they kicked our butts on the boards at times. But we wanted to take their guards out of the game. We shut down their leading scorer (Evan Talcott), he’s averaging 17, and we did exactly that.”
Momentum quickly turned in the third quarter as Brandon Valley opened the period with a 7-0 run in the first two and a half minutes to trim the Raider lead to 31-30.
“We have eight seniors on our ballclub and they don’t all play a lot of minutes, but the maturity level of those eight guys is big for us,” Deckert said. “We don’t play bad for a whole game. I’m not saying we are going to win every game, but we are going to give ourselves a shot at beating every opponent we face. We’ve done it all year and we did it again tonight.”
A nine point quarter by senior guard Carter Olthoff — Brandon’s leading scorer in the game with 21 points, and a Jackson Hilton 3-pointer — one of sophomore’s 11 second half points after a scoreless first half — drew the Lynx even at 38-all. And a Terhark spin move in the low block with six seconds remaining gave Brandon Valley its first lead of the game at 40-38 through three quarters.
Terhark expanded the Brandon Valley lead to 43-38 with his second 3-pointer of the game, and 18th point of the contest, to open the fourth quarter. Senior guard Nate Keegan followed with another 3 to put the Lynx up 46-39 with 6:45 remaining.
And though Stevens cut the deficit to 46-43 on four consecutive free throws by Pourier, the Raiders would draw no closer as Lynx conversions at the charity stripe in the waning moments closed out the win.
“They are very physical team, and when you play a team like that for 32 minutes, they can wear you down mentally and physically. For a half we were really good, but they kind of wore us down and we didn’t have a lot of energy left at the end of the game,” Stoebner said. “I don’t think defense was our issue. Rebounding hurt us, and we only scored 16 points in the second half. But I thought we executed defensively very well. It was just a matter of finishing off offensively (Stevens was held to 19 percent shooting in the second half).”
Pourier led the Raiders in scoring with 21 points, many coming while tightly contested by a tenacious Lynx defense. Daniel Vigorin added seven points while Mason Steele and Colton Hartford each chipped in with six points.
“Dylan had to do a lot tonight, probably too much,” Stoebner said. “Give credit to Brandon though. They got after us physically and took some guys away. In the first half I thought we played a little freer, had some guys making shots, but they clamped down defensively and we struggled to get open looks and had a couple shots blocked and weren’t able to find ways to score.”
With the win, fourth-seeded Brandon Valley (17-5) advances to today's semifinal round (6:30 p.m.), meeting an eighth-seeded Harrisburg squad that upset top-seeded Sioux Falls Lincoln, while Stevens (15-7) will face O’Gorman in consolation round play at the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena (12:45 p.m.).