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Native Sun News: Pine Ridge basketball team breaks bracket

Filed Under: National | Sports
More on: basketball, native sun news, oglala sioux, south dakota

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Oelrichs returns four starters including big man John Garnier and guard Robert Rouillard who was recently filmed completing an ankle breaking crossover in a win against Upton, Wyoming. COURTESY/JCPRO

Meet the bracket busters: Oelrichs Tigers
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY—Just a few short years ago when someone thought of Oelrichs, S.D., the thought of buying bait for a fishing trip, or maybe a last second opportunity to gas up the car came to mind –well things have changed. Oelrichs is all about hoops and they have snared some of the top talents from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to come play in the tiny town.

“We think we have the talent to make it to the championship game and maybe win state at the end of the year,” said Will Garnier the second year coach at Oelrichs.

The team is expected to take another step forward this year with the return of four starters led by the sharpshooting big man John Garnier, and one of the premier athletes in South Dakota high school basketball in guard Eric Swift Water. Swift Water, played receiver in the fall for the Hot Springs high school, contributing to the team that made a deep run in the playoffs. According to many hoops fans around the reservation Swift Water may be the most athletic guard on the reservation.

If Oelrichs plans on making a run at the Lakota Nation Invitational title they will encounter two tough Class B opponents along the way in a first round matchup against the Mclaughlin Midgets and then a head on collision with powerhouse White River, the tournament’s overall #1 seed. White River is in the middle of its own dynastical run under the guidance of former St. Francis great, Eldon Marshall.

“I do not know a lot about Mclaughlin, only what I saw last year. They are usually pretty good,” said Garnier. “White River is in our district and last year we gave them all they wanted for a half and then we ran out of gas.”

Garnier was referring to a loss that Oelrichs suffered at the hands of White River in the district championship last year, where a nip and tuck game at the half became a decisive win for White River.

“This year I am already focusing more on the conditioning side of things a lot more,” said Garnier.

For Garnier, who was an all-state player in 1967 and one of South Dakota’s all-time leading scorers, his philosophy for this year’s team is simple.

“It is just the fundamentals of the game and sportsmanship… I am not saying that I am the best coach but I know the fundamentals and so will my team.”

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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