JAY DAVIS: Win over Roncalli was what high school sports are all about
Every season in every sport is filled with highs and lows. There are wins that cannot get any better. There are losses that cannot get any worse.
Thursday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center was a prime example of just how much fun high school sports can be.
The Mobridge-Pollock win over Aberdeen Roncalli was definitely the high point of Tiger sports so far this year. The blood, sweat and tears of years of hard work came together in one fell swoop and came crashing down on the Cavaliers.
The hundreds of Tiger fans in the gym that night were thinking, “I’m seeing this, but I don’t know if I’m believing this!” You at home watching on SDPB had to be thinking the same thing.
The feeling of disbelief did not come from the fact that the Tigers were beating the Cavaliers. The stun came from just how much the Tigers dominated the game. The game was almost over at 9-0. As the game played on, everyone knew, they just knew that Roncalli was going to make a run. Everyone was sure there would be a rally, because, this is Roncalli. The Cavaliers are a very good and very well coached basketball team. They are a program that had beaten the Tigers nine straight times and 13 out of the last 14 meetings.
But that run never came. The Tigers never lost their composure nor did they ever have a scoring funk or rash of turnovers that could cause their lead to start shrinking.
The 67-52 win turned out to be the game that every Tiger fan was waiting for, the game that every player was playing for and the game that the coaches were coaching for.
The Tigers’ starting five is senior laden, but it was lone junior Mitch Heumiller who picked Thursday to be the best game of his career. Heumiller’s 26 points and perfect shooting in the second half made sure this game was never going to be close.
But the four seniors, well they all played important roles in the win. You can almost define their season roles by how the game played out. Zach Dockter ran the offense and hit key shots. Daniel Roberts got us out of the gates quickly with eight first quarter points. Pearson Wientjes was a demon on the boards with 12 rebounds. Cody Schaefbauer was a thorn in the side of Roncalli’s shooters.
Okay, so the next two days did not produce a second win, but it doesn’t matter. This team took us to great heights this season. The district championship win over Cheyenne-Eagle Butte was one of the most exciting games a basketball fan could witness, and the region championship win over Miller showed us how a team wins a title with dominating play in the fourth quarter.
The late season run also showed the underclassmen that winning in the postseason is one really good time. Winning isn’t everything, but man is it a good time!
Before I call this a column, I have to correct my typo from last week. Many of you noticed that I twisted a couple of numbers around. The Tigers did not go to state in ‘98, they went in ‘89 as part of the run of three tournaments in six years. That, by the way, was the only other time the Tigers met up with Roncalli at the state tournament level. The Tigers won that game 71-62.