Before the Class A state tournament started, Pine Ridge boys' basketball coach Casey Means said his team's goal was to raise a banner.
Thursday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, the No. 4 seeded Thorpes ran by No. 5 seed Hot Springs 75-51 to advance to the semifinals.
"I was just happy that the boys were able to get out today and run, get a feel for that big court, at the same time, still play smart," Means said. "When we’re playing with energy and clicking on defense, we’re pretty tough to beat."
The win sets up a match up with No. 1 seed Tea Area, which is 22-1 on the season.
Hot Springs, 20-4, will face No 8 seed Dell Rapids, 14-8, in the consolation semifinals.
The Thorpes jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led the Bison 19-10 at the end of the first quarter.
"Pine Ridge is a good basketball team and they played very well," Hot Springs coach Aaron Noteboom said. "I thought they played harder than us, they played a little bit more physical than us, and obviously it showed up in the final score."
Hot Springs was able to hang around in the second quarter, but the Thorpes ended the half on a run and led 36-24 at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to Pine Ridge.
The Thorpes outscored Hot Springs 19-11 in the third, and the score was 55-35 with eight minutes remaining.
"We want to wear teams down and beat them at the end," Means said. "That’s part of our game plan, push the pace, wear them out for four quarters."
In the fourth quarter Pine Ridge outscored the Bison 20-16, putting the exclamation point on the win that moved it to 19-3.
The Thorpes were balanced with scoring the ball as Charles Schrader and Corey Brown had 14 points each and Halin Bad Bear had 11.
Joe O'Rourke also gave Pine Ridge eight minutes, but those eight minutes had a big impact.
He had 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. He was also one of the most energetic players on the court when he was on it.
"He’s our energy booster," Means said. "He’s just a battler, he’ll do whatever. He plays hard, practices hard."
Pine Ridge shot 32-of-62 for 51.6 percent from the field while the Bison didn't shoot poorly at 17-of-46 for 37 percent, but it wasn't enough. The Thorpes also outrebounded Hot Springs 35-28.
The Bison's Morgan Harkless led all scorers with 17 points.
Now, at 20-4, Hot Springs will try for fifth place, starting with Dell Rapids starting at 11:45 a.m in the Sioux Falls Arena.
"We talked about having a short memory and focusing on Dell Rapids and bringing our ‘A’ game tomorrow," Noteboom said. "We don’t know a whole lot about them, but we watched them today and had a feel for what they do."
For Pine Ridge, the challenge will also be big, taking on the Titans.
Means said the team knew if it wanted to compete for a state championship, it would probably have to go through Tea Area, and he said his group is ready.
"We’ve been keeping our eye on them all year, the boys have been playing against each other since they were young," Means said. "We know what they’re bringing to the table, we know what to expect and we know we have to play a perfect game on defense."
Tea Area topped Dell Rapids 81-38 in the quarterfinals and has been ranked No. 1 for the entire season. Tip-off between the two teams is 5:30 p.m. in the PREMIER Center.
"We’re ready. We watched them at Mitchell, watched their qualifying game, but they’re a really tough team to beat," he said. "They’ve got shooters, they’re unselfish. They’ve got everything and so do we, so it should be a fun game."