|The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun
News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.
Miriam Rama and Shaylene Richard race down the court during the girls Lakota Nation Invitational Championship. Photos by/David Michaud
White River Girls go back to back
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor
RAPID CITY— No matter the year or the place when Pine Ridge plays Red Cloud it is going to be a battle. The championship game for the girls Lakota Nation Invitational this year was just that and ended with the Thorpes coming out on top 57-48.
In a game that saw #1 seeded Pine Ridge Lady Thorpes defeat the #2 seeded Lady Crusaders fans were treated with an expose on talent, heart, and passion that can only be brought to life when South Dakota’s greatest high school rivalry is rekindled.
Prior to game Pine Ridge Lady Thorpes assistant coach Dale Pine would comment on how the rivalry would impact the game.
“It will always be close no matter what. It is going to be a tough game for us it always is,” said Pine.
Early in the first half the Thorpes and Crusaders would find themselves locked in a tight ball game with the score tied at 5-5. As the game progressed however the defensive pressure that the Thorpes have become known for under the guidance of head coach Laura Big Crow, seemed to rattle the Crusaders as turnovers mounted. In the first half foul troubles plagued both teams as Pine Ridge’s center Nettie Bettleyoun picked up early fouls as did Red Cloud’s Samantha Weston.
Bettleyoun who earned experience playing in last year’s state tournament as a freshman said that her early foul trouble forced the Lady Thorpes to change up their game.
“We were forced to play more from the outside,” she said “Some of them coming off the bench were scared but with the way they play in practice I knew they could do it and they did really good.”
The Thorpes would force several turnovers by the Crusaders leading to a 25-10 run to end the first half up 30-15. As the second half started the Thorpes would push their lead to 16. However as the old adage of “It’s not over until it’s over” rang true, Amanda Carlow’s Lady Crusaders began to find success from long range and cut the lead to 12 at the 10:00 minute mark of the second half. Not done the Crusaders would continue on a 14-0 run cutting the lead to only 2 points behind the shooting of Brooke Ghost Bear and several other contributors coming off the bench for Red Cloud. Sitting courtside former Red Crusaders point guard Lyle Jacobs called the run, “the quietest 14-0 run he had ever seen” as Red Cloud snuck back in to the game.
The Thorpes however would stop the bleeding as point guard Shaylene Richard would find gaps in the Crusaders defense creating points, assists, and easy rebounds for her teammates as they stretched their lead to double digits once again. The Crusaders were not done however as they again fought back to within 3 points but a deep three by Jobeth Morrisette of the Thorpes ended any chances of a comeback and paved the way for another LNI championship for the Lady Thorpes.
The Thorpes were led by tournament MVP Santana White Dress with 17 and Cortez Standing Bear with 10.
(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at email@example.com)
Copyright permission by Native Sun News