National | Sports

Native Sun News Today: Pine Ridge teams fight it out at the buzzer

Halin Bad Bear (40) of Pine Ridge drives against Jordan Shott (23) of Red Cloud. Photo by James Giago Davies

Red Cloud barely holds off Pine Ridge comeback
Thorpes almost steal game with buzzer beater
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Sports Editor

PINE RIDGE — It would have been fairly easy to pick Red Cloud over Pine Ridge this year if the game is at Red Cloud and the starters are healthy. As it turns out, the Crusaders had to drive a couple miles south to Pine Ridge and their top notch floor general, Ale Rama, was out with a bad ankle, and their offensive sparkplug, Russell Leader Charge, was also hobbled with a bad ankle, one that would eventually force him from the game.

That is why the game came down to a buzzer beater three-pointer from Pine Ridge’s Joe O’Rourke, a 6-2 sophomore, which bounced in and out, and preserved a hard fought 64-62 Red Cloud victory on the night of January 5.

Reservation basketball doesn’t get much more exciting than the show these two teams put on before a packed house; two Oglala teams, battling for bragging rights to Pine Ridge Village, half Pine Ridge red, half Red Cloud blue, and the loudest Lakota basketball game fans will attend this year.

Outside, it was lila osni, bitter cold, and the approaches to the Pine Ridge gymnasium were treacherously iced over. Inside, it was lila okhalya, warm as toast, because even the lobby was packed to standing room capacity. Activities Director, Dusty LeBeau was seated at the gym door to greet folks, all the programs quickly gobbled up, although plenty could be found discarded once the game was over.

Halin Bad Bear, an aggressive 6-0 sophomore guard for Pine Ridge, would score 17 points in this game, but his first shot clanked off the rim and the offensive board was snatched up by spike-haired Corey Brown, a rugged 6-2 sophomore, second to none in his post play. Crusader defenders collapsed in around him, the ball came loose, and down at the other end, Mahpiya Briseno, a 6-5 senior, canned a jumper from the top of the key, and Red Cloud drew first blood, 2-0.

Bad Bear came back with a baseline drive and was fouled by Briseno. He tied up the game 2-2 by making both free throws. Fifteen seconds later Bad Bear intercepted a Joe Black Crow pass and took it length of court for a lay-up, 4-2, Pine Ridge.

It would be a disappointing night for Brown, forecasted by his losing a shoe in heavy lane traffic on the next possession, but Bad Bear retained his hot hand, eventually collecting the ball and scoring on another explosive baseline drive, to make it 6-2.

After blocked shots on both ends of the floor got the crowd in an uproar, Brown posted up hard under the basket and drew another foul from Briseno. After Brown made both free throws to make it 8-2, Pine Ridge, Red Cloud Head Coach Christian McGhee called a timeout, with 5:03 remaining in the opening quarter.

Back on the floor, Jordan Shott, a 6-3 senior forward, missed a three, and Pine Ridge rushed the rebound up court but Red Cloud tipped it out of bounds. Brown took the inbounds pass, and put it up-and-in over two Red Cloud defenders.

At this point, the Crusaders were matching the Thorpes shot-for-shot, and none of these shots were low percentage bad, they just weren’t knocking them down. And then Jesse Jensen, a 6-1 sophomore guard came into the game for Red Cloud. Jensen looks like a baby-faced schoolboy, but he is deceptively effective on the floor. His lay-up made it 10-4, Pine Ridge.

Black Crow, a 6-2 senior guard, and another player who stepped up his game for Red Cloud Thursday night, made it 10-6 with a with a nice fade away jump shot.

The always aggressive Bad Bear then threw an elbow on his baseline drive. It wasn’t a flagrant elbow, but he was called for it, and wanting to make up for it, he picked up his third foul derailing Jensen on the other end in the paint. Jensen hit both free throws, and the Pine Ridge lead was cut to 10-8. More importantly, Head Coach Corey Shangreaux had no choice but to put Bad Bear on the bench, which is hard luck for the Thorpes, because at that point, he was playing some terrific basketball.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Red Cloud barely holds off Pine Ridge comeback

(Contact James Giago Davies at

Copyright permission Native Sun News