JAY DAVIS: Tiger/Midget rivalry keeps rewriting stories

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While it may have been surprising to some, last night when the McLaughlin Midgets beat the Tigers in McLaughlin, I was not taken aback in the least.

This is one of the great rivalries in South Dakota basketball history. When one team wins it should never be a surprise to the other team or the fans of the other team. The upset has happened uncountable times in the 152 games the Tigers and Midgets have played against one another.

The Tigers had won four in a row in the rivalry and six of the last seven, so maybe the Midgets were due. Remember the last time the Midgets beat the Tigers? It was a 61-58 upset win the night the Tigers opened the new “House on the Hill.”

It is too bad the school population in McLaughlin has the Midgets playing Class B basketball now. The rivalry is never better then when the teams are butting heads in the postseason, although the Tigers have had the upper hand in district and region play with a 19-6 postseason record against the Midgets.

Just the other night, Virgil Taken Alive and I were recalling the 69-68 win for the Tigers against the favored Midgets in the 1976 district tournament. If you are old enough to remember, that was the game Scott Stiles grabbed a rebound, raced down the floor and hit a 20-foot jumper as the buzzer sounded.

That is just one game. There are so many games in the history of this rivalry. We could gather players from past generations all the way back to WWI and hear stories. Ask the players from the ‘50s when the Midgets beat the Tigers 16 straight times. Ask the players from the late ‘80s to early ‘90s when the Tigers won 16 of 17. Even then there were upsets and shocking finishes.  Ask about the Tigers’ 49-47 win in the ’82 district or the 62-60 Midgets’ win in the ’83 district.

Or, if you don’t want to relive the past, wait until next year’s games. Another two stories will be written.

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