Reserves provided Rapid City Stevens with a burst of much-needed energy, lifting the Raiders past Sioux Falls Washington 62-38 Friday at Barnett Arena in the consolation semifinals of the state AA girls' basketball tournament.
Foul troubles forced the Raiders deep into their bench and away from playing man defense, instead going to a hustling zone to limit Washington’s ability to get the ball into the post.
Down nine late in the first quarter, reserves Delaney Klosterman, Jayda McNabb, Cameron Karley and Laura Petik swarmed Washington while on the defensive end of the floor. Turnovers and defensive rebounding led to hustle plays on offense that swung fortunes Stevens’ way.
With four players off the bench in the game, Stevens got some stops on defense and then got the ball through the hoop to spark its offense back to life, and the Raiders were off and running.
“Our defense, that’s where everything started. Then our energy picked us up and helped us transition to offense,” Klosterman said. “Coach always talks about tempo, pushing the ball, just being energetic and it will make things happen.”
“We couldn’t keep playing man,” Stevens coach Michael Brooks said. “Our reserves can play any defense we want. They were able to execute it perfectly.”
Down 13-5 after a sleepy opening quarter, Karley got a quick bucket to open the second stanza. McNabb provided a constant push in transition. She netted two baskets with strong moves to the basket along with getting the Raiders running the floor.
Klosterman’s two free throws that gave Stevens its first lead at 18-17 with 3:53 left in the half proved to be a turning point in the game. A 3-pointer from Karley and two free throws from Elizabeth Schaefer capped a furious 12-2 run that completely swung the game’s momentum the Raiders’ way.
Washington, on the other hand, struggled to get the ball inside to its post players — 6-foot-5 Sydni Schetnan, 6-1 Lily Bartling and 6-1 Samiya Jami — where it had a distinct height advantage. Cold outside shooting and frustrations at the free throw line compounded the Warriors’ problems.
Brooks credited Kyah Watson for her play guarding the bigger Warriors in the paint.
“Her physicality, she really stepped up and didn’t allow them to get easy shots,” Brooks said. “Our digging in inside made sure their posts didn’t feel comfortable.”
Stevens outscored Washington 19-4 over the final six minutes of the second quarter to go into the half up 30-19. The Raiders then netted the first six points of the second half to build a 36-19 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter.
A 9-2 scoring burst in the first 2-1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter upped Stevens’ lead to 57-29 and the Raiders never looked back.
“The cool thing about this team is everybody practices hard, so everybody is ready for their opportunity to play,” Brooks said. “It was good to see things take shape on the court.
Karley, a senior, finished with 14 points off the bench to lead the Raiders. McNabb and Grace Martin both finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Watson finished with eight points — all in a six-minute stretch during the second quarter — and 10 rebounds. McNabb added a team-high six assists.
Bartling and Eden Hullinger led Washington with five points each. Of the 11 Warriors who scored, only Hullinger made more than one field goal.
Top-seeded Sioux Falls O’Gorman awaits Stevens (16-7) in the consolation championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday in Barnett Arena. The Lady Knights (19-4) edged the Raiders 48-42 when the teams met earlier this season.
“After our game today, our confidence level has really gone up,” Klosterman said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, it’ll be a very good game.
Washington plays Brookings in the seventh-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Rapid City Ice Arena.