Though Rapid City Stevens closed out the season with a 61-56 loss to the Huron Tigers in the Class AA Boys State Tournament seventh-place game on Saturday afternoon, Raider coach Chris Stoebner was effusive in his praise for his undersized squad that lost the leading scorer (Dawson Paulsen) to injury early in the season.
“I could not be prouder of this bunch of guys,” Stoebner said. “To win 15 games in AA with the adversity we had, you have to have some special kids. Though we lost our games here, we were in every one of these games. As I told the team after, I’m thankful that I was able to ride along.”
As in the two previous tournament games, Stevens led at halftime, (32-28) behind some torrid 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc in the first quarter as Joe Bennett, Blake Weaver, Daniel Vigoren, Dylan Pourier and Tyson Elliot all knocked down 3-pointers.
Stevens clung to the advantage through most of the third quarter despite having to sit 6-foot-7 junior center Mason Steele, the Raiders only inside presence, due to two quick fouls in the first minute of the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Huron’s leading scorer, Kobe Busch (a game-high 18 points), gave the Tigers a 46-36 lead through three periods.
Forced to resort to the 3-ball, the Raiders cooled off, going 2-of-19 in the second half.
Trailing by nine, 54-45, Stevens did draw to within two at 57-55 on a Pourier 2-pointer with 1:50 remaining, though Huron dominated the glass in the final period allowing for some easy put-back opportunities. The Tigers had 10 offensive rebounds in the game, a 22-14 advantage on points scored in the paint, and benefited from 13 second-chance opportunities.
“For most of the year, we’ve rebounded well for our size, but today, like in the other games, we got wore down from the energy we spend through three quarters, and weren’t able to finish games like maybe we should have or could have,” Stoebner said. “But I’m telling you for 12 quarters this weekend we were pretty darn good and showed the we could hang with the best teams in the state.”
Pourier closed out his prep career with 12 points while juniors Steele and Vigoren chipped in with 10 and nine points respectively as the Raiders conclude the season with a 15-9 record.