Red Cloud’s Mahpiya Briseno about to have his jump shot blocked by Winnebago’s high-flying David Wingett.
Photo by James Giago Davies
Winnebago boys sweep LNI
Defending Champ dominant on both ends of the court
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today correspondent
RAPID CITY –– It wasn’t hard to predict a Red Cloud-Winnebago final at the 40th Annual Lakota Nation Invitational, or even a Winnebago victory, but the Indians topped all expectations by running roughshod over a solid, well-coached Red Cloud Crusaders squad, 97-51, outscoring their opponent by 30 points in the second half, and serving notice to the folks back in Nebraska, Winnebago is determined to grab their second state title in three years.
A surprisingly large crowd braved frigid temperatures and icy roads to fill the Don Barnett Arena at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, and they can be forgiven if they mistook Winnebago for an offensive oriented team, given the slam dunks of David Wingett, the slashing drives of D’Von LaPointe, and the outside shooting of Manape Cleveland.
“Our defense,” that’s what Head Coach Jeff Berridge credited as the single most important factor in Winnebago’s championship run. “Every great team, every great coach will tell you defense means championships.”
Despite the lopsided score, Berridge was impressed with the Crusaders effort.
“Actually, Red Cloud gave us a better run than White River did last year, but my team works so hard for games like this, they live for games like this.”
Winnebago came into the championship game with a 7-0 record. Red Cloud was 4-0. Although Winnebago started the tournament slowly, being outplayed by Tiospa Zina in the opening game for a quarter, they rallied to beat the Wambdi by 40, beat Cheyenne-Eagle Butte in the next round by 63, and then turned back a scrappy Pine Ridge team, by 23 points in the semis.
Red Cloud opened their tournament with an impressive 49-point win over Omaha Nation, a 15-point win over Todd County, but had to rally to eke out a 65-60 win over upset-minded Crow Creek in the semis.
“I have nothing but respect for (Crow Creek) and their program,” Red Cloud Head Coach Christian McGhee said. “We needed a game like this (to prepare for Winnebago). Obviously (Wingett) is a D1 player; there’s not anything he can’t do on the floor. It’s gonna take a team effort.”
That team effort is led by Russell Leader Charge, a 6-0 junior shooting guard and the top athlete in the tournament. Leader Charge transferred from White River, and is coming off a storied football season where he may have proven himself the best football player in the state at any class level.
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Winnebago boys sweep LNI
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