|The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native
Pine Ridge Thorpes head coach Dusty LeBeau gathers his team during the Lakota Nation Invitational Championship. Photo by/David Michaud
Boys stop White River
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor
PINE RIDGE — In a game that forced the highly talented Pine Ridge Thorpes to dig deep in to their bag of tricks, Dusty Lebeau’s 2013-2014 squad knocked off the top seeded and defending Lakota Nation Invitational Champion White River Tigers, 53-46.
The #2 seeded Thorpes, although considered to be the favorite by many going in to the championship game, found themselves down by as many as nine points early as turnovers plagued the Thorpes.
At the 8:00 minute mark of the first half the Thorpes trailed the Tigers 17-10, however Tournament MVP Jeff Lebeau would find his stride and would score several times on the block to steady the ship. Nonetheless the often foul plagued big man would again find himself on the bench with 3 fouls in the first half. With Jake Brown injured and Trent Janis tweaking a knee early, Pine Ridge would be carried by the play of Jacob Dreamer who would contribute a game high 16pts to go along with his contributions as a ball handler and defensive stopper.
White River would fall in to a scoring drought late in the first half as the Thorpes went on a 11-3 run to close out the first half up by 1, 22-21.
In the second half coach Dusty Lebeau knew he would be forced to go deeper in to his bench with Jake Brown playing on badly sprained ankle called upon seldom used Perez De Leon to spell starting guard Jacob Dreamer.
“The last few days I talked with (DeLeon) and I knew he wasn’t ready to be out there. So today when I talked with him I looked at him and I could tell that he wanted to play,” said Lebeau. “He isn’t the only one. There are other kids on the bench who didn’t get to play yet that can and when we get them going our depth is going to be even better.”
De Leon would score 6 points in the second half but seemed to not be phased making his tournament debut in front of the bright lights on Saturday night of the Lakota Nation Invitational as his play helped the Thorpes to maintain their lead.
“I wasn’t nervous I just wanted to be out there,” said De Leon. “I was frustrated by not being able to play and just wanted to be ready when they called on me. Not being able to play just made me want to be a better player and to do well when I got on the floor,” he added.
De Leon’s contribution off the bench was felt on both sides of the court as his hustle and intensity helped to prevent White River from ever seriously threatening the Thorpes’ lead in the second half.
With 9 minutes left in the second half and up 9 points the Thorpes’ anchor Jeff Lebeau would pick up his fourth foul and would again be sent to the bench. Although Lebeau was forced to sit due to fouls he would still chip in 13 pts and multiple assists. With Lebeau on the bench the Thorpes would maintain their lead for the next 4:30 as Mike Brings Plenty would enter the game and secure multiple rebounds, including three tip outs on the offensive glass, on one possession alone. The Thorpes weathered the storm and would cruise to victory as the Class B White River Tigers struggled with the size, athleticism, and depth of the bigger school’s team.
“It feels good to win LNI but now it’s time to start working on being better. I tried to stay out of foul trouble the last couple of games but tonight I had some,” said Jeff Lebeau. “We want to get to Sioux Falls to state and win it. That is our goal.”
(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at email@example.com)
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