One of the most compelling aspects of a state high school basketball tournaments is how teams respond to the adversity of having state title aspirations dashed in a first-round loss.
The Rapid City Stevens boys responded impressively to last night’s opening-round loss, giving Sioux Falls Lincoln, the top-seed, all the Patriots could handle before succumbing 74-67 in a Class AA state boys tournament consolation semifinal game Friday afternoon at the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena.
Down by 10 points, 26-16, three minutes into the second quarter, the Raiders rallied behind an up-tempo game, and the stellar play of senior guard Dylan Pourier to grab a 33-32 lead at halftime.
“As I told them before the game today, there are two games left, the last two games we will be together as a team, so let’s come out strong,” Stevens coach Chris Stoebner said. “They’ve done that all year, and I didn’t have any doubts that they would. Lincoln came out and jumped on us early, and we were down by 10 and could have caved in, but they kept fighting and came back.”
Pourier, who came into the game needing one point to reach the 1,000-point mark in his prep career, tallied that and 16 more in the opening half. Knocking down three 3-pointers and converting off a series of dribble-drives, Pourier scored 14 of his team’s first 16 points. An up-tempo Raider attack, coupled with Lincoln turnovers converted by Stevens into 14 first-half points, sparking the comeback.
“We are at our best when we get up and down,” Stoebner said. “And against Lincoln, we had to do that because they were longer than us at every position so we had to avoid half court situations as much as we could.”
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The Raiders needed to pick up the pace to slow down the inside/outside game of 6-foot-7 center, Nate Brecht, who worked the paint, and stepped out to knock down three treys in a 13-point half.
"Nate has done that for us all season,” Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth said. “When we don’t have things going well on the outside, we look to get it inside to him and he gets some things finished. From where he was at the beginning of the year and where he is right now, he’s turned into one heck of a basketball player.”
Brecht was the answer for the Patriots early in the second half as well, converting two free throws followed up by a offensive rebound put-back and a charity toss to give Lincoln a 40-37 lead they would not relinquish.
Though Stevens hung close through three quarters, 51-46, Lincoln padded the lead in the final frame at the free-throw line to close out the victory.
Pourier led the Raiders in scoring with 26, Daniel Vigoren added 13, and Mason Steele and Blake Weaver were also in double figures with 11 and 10 respectively. Brecht finished with 21 for Lincoln, Jared Jaros contributed 18, and Maxwell Burchill chipped in with 15.
On Saturday, Stevens (15-8) will meet Huron in the seventh-place contest (11:45 a.m.) at the Ice Arena, while Lincoln (19-3) will meet Sioux Falls Roosevelt for the consolation championship (11:45 a.m. in Barnett Arena).