Defense is the old reliable when the shot doesn't always fall.
The Rapid City Stevens girls' basketball team never wavered on defense and held off Sturgis 41-31 Friday night at Carold Heier Gymnasium.
The Raider boys completed the Stevens sweep later with a 46-34 win over the Scoopers.
It was a tough start for the Stevens girls, who trailed 7-2 midway through the first quarter, but closed with the final nine points for a four-point edge heading into the second.
Stevens maintained a six- to eight-point lead for much of the rest of the way, although Sturgis pulled within three early in the fourth.
"We missed a lot of easy layups at the beginning of the game that I think took us out of our rhythm," Stevens coach Michael Brooks said. "The way our team played defense, the way we were able to change from man to zone to man, and really be aggressive at times, was good to see."
A team that plays seniors through freshmen is a resilient one, Brooks said.
"You talk about freshmen learning how to play together and now they are juniors; seniors winning a state championships (in volleyball) and understanding how to win," he said. "Then bringing up young players, freshmen and sophomores, in the starting lineup and teaching them how to be successful. This group has been through so much that they rely one each other and they talk to each other. That allows us to be successful."
After two straight baskets to close the second quarter by freshman Bailee Sobczak, the Raiders opened up a nine-point lead to begin the third on a junior Grace Martin basket. The Scoopers did cut the lead back to four but Stevens sandwiched four points by Kenadi Rising with a Olivia Jolley 3-pointer and the Raiders led 28-23 heading into the fourth.
Jolley cut the lead with the first points in the fourth, but Stevens junior Kyah Watson scored on two straight drives and four points by Martin gave the Raiders a 37-28 lead with four minutes to play.
"They came out strong but we fought back and played pretty good defense and came together as a team," Martin said. "We drove against them and that helped. We didn't knock down many outside shots, but aggressiveness really helped us."
Loralee Stock, 10 points in the game, hit a three-point play to cut the lead to six, but she would soon foul out and the Raiders pulled away for the win. Jolley also added 10 for the Scoopers.
"This schedule where we are going against Central and Stevens back-to-back is hard for anybody to do, especially coming to Stevens," Sturgis coach Jordan Proefrock said. "Our girls are tired, we had finals this week too. The first half, the effort wasn't there, not like we had anticipated our effort to be there. I thought the second half we came out stronger and more focused, but when you get behind a team like that, it is hard to catch up."
The win was the Raiders eighth straight after a disappointing loss to Brandon Valley at home to open the season.
Brooks said their practice habits have gotten better, and when their practice habits get better, games are nicer to watch.
"For us it is about practice and putting in the time each day," he said. "We didn't have a lot of good moments in practice before that first game, so to see us build, see us get in shape, and see us take practice with importance has been the deciding factor for us to grow over these last eight games."
Watson finished with 10 points to pace the Raiders, while Martin added nine.
Martin, who missed the last half of last season with a knee injury, said her knee feels good and is not bothering her.
"I feel like I am having a pretty good season," she said. "It was a slow start, but it feels good to be back with my team that I have played with forever."
The Raiders will look to keep their streak going on the road, as they face an always strong Campbell County program in Gillette, Wyoming, today.
Sturgis, 7-2, gets back in action next weekend at Spearfish and Hill City.
Stevens boys go downtown in win
For a while, all the Rapid City Stevens boys could do was hit 3-pointers.
And that was a good thing, as they hit seven in the first half — all of their field goals — in taking the lead.
The Raiders led 28-20 at halftime and despite a rough offensive third quarter, were up 32-25 going into the fourth.
But 6-foot-6 junior Mason Steele took over in the fourth quarter underneath the basket as the Raiders were able to pull away. Steele scored 11 of his game-high 13 points as Stevens outscored the Scoopers 14-9 to close for the win.
The win was the Raiders' sixth straight victory and puts them at 7-2 on the season. After opening the season with seven wins, Sturgis has now lost two straight.
Sturgis had the upper hand early, leading 7-3 and 9-6 at the end of the first period as Stevens didn't hit a field goal until about one minute left in the opening frame.
But two straight 3-pointers by junior Blake Weaver put the Raiders up for the first time at 12-11. Seniors Joe Bennett, Tyson Elliott and Dylan Pourier hit late 3-pointers to put the Raiders up by eight.
The teams combined for just nine points in the third.
Pourier opened the fourth with a 3-pointer and Steele's old fashioned three-point play up the Raiders up 42-29 with three minutes remaining.
Ryan Garland led Sturgis with 13 points and Cedrick Stabber added 11.
The Raiders will be at Campbell County (Gillette) today and the Scoopers return will be at Pierre Thursday before facing Spearfish Friday in Spearfish.