By Sports Instigator, Rich Winter
To say that Todd County is an underdog in tonight's Region 7A semifinal would be an understatement.
The Thorpes finished the regular season with an 18-2 record. Their only losses this season were a 57-49 loss to AA Sturgis on Jan. 4 and a 63-35 loss to a good Aberdeen Roncalli team. Throw out that loss to Aberdeen Roncalli, the Thorpes were playing a third game in three nights and they traveled all day the day of the game to get to Mitchell where they just didn't have any legs.
Pine Ridge was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state most of the year and they are in the top five right now.
When they played Todd County on Feb. 20 the Thorpes pulled in the second half to win the game 73-38.With nine seniors on this roster, this is the year these kids and Thorpe fans have been pointing towards for years.
Of course it all starts with Jeff LeBeau. The Thorpe big man is a great passer, great rebounder, blocked shot guy. One of the most cerebral players I've seen in the Class A ranks in quite some time.
Pine Ridge has great guard play out of seniors Jesse Brown and Jacob Dreamer. When those guys get it going from deep, no team in the state is safe. What I like about these guys is the guards set the tone with defensive pressure. They will extend the defense to 30 feet if necessary or pick you up when you come across half court.
Senior Jacob Brown gets under people's skin and he's tough and one of the best leapers in the state.
My favorite guy is Ki-Jana Grey Grass who is the toughest player I've seen on the court this year.
Let's face it, if Vegas was putting odds on this thing, I'd have to say Pine Ridge is favored by at least 30.
But...and this is big BUT, there is a reason they play these games.
Colombe Dynasty was telling me about a game in 96 or 97 where undefeated and top ranked (we think) CEB was knocked out of the Districts by a terrible Gettysburg squad.
A week earlier, CEB just torched the Battlers (now Potter County) by about 30 or 40 points but in District play Eagle-Butte didn't perform and they were ousted from the tournament.
Was visiting with Dana Cook, Todd Counties self proclaimed greatest athlete, and he mentioned a couple of great upsets he witnessed.
1. I seen eaglebutte beat McLaughlin once and I remember a lady threw her shoe at a ref during the game on the court...that was when they had the eagle.staff boys..crazy.
2. Seen Dupree score 12 points in one minute against Lemmon at districts once they were down 10 in 1984 that was like serious march madness stuff..
For Todd County which pulled the upset on Tuesday night to get by Little Wound and into this game, I gotta think the guys are playing with absolutely no pressure.
Todd County is expected to lose, and lose big. They aren't supposed to win so every basket, every steal and every possession is just gravy.
In those kinds of situations where there is no pressure, I expect Todd County to come out and throw the kitchen sink at these Thorpes.
Make no mistake, it would be a herculean task, but dang-it, I've seen stranger things happen.
Keys to the game
1. Rebounding - Todd County has to limit the Pine Ridge opportunities especially on the offensive glass
2. Turnovers - Todd County cannot afford to get sped up and get into a track meet with this senior laden team (My opinion)
3. Three-point shooting - In order to win this game, Todd County is going to have to find some points from beyond the arc. Hit five or more and this game gets interesting.
4. Contributions from unexpected sources. The other night, Chuck Spotted Elk played like a man possessed...Todd County needs bench production from guys other than normal starters.
First and foremost I'd like to say congratulations to both teams. Very excited to feel the energy of a big game tonight. (Sorry St. Francis fans, Kernit Grimshaw has your back tonight and due to other obligations I'm going west).
I hope its a good game with no fan, extra involvement...Just clean, well played and fun.
|33||33||Mike Brings Plenty||6'4||F||12|
|42||42||Jerome Slow Bear||6'0||G||11|
|50||50||Ki-Jana Grey Grass||6'2||F||12|