JAY DAVIS: Tigers’ turn to try and make third time the charm

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harm for the Lady Tigers. And now it is the Tigers’ turn.

The girls played Cheyenne-Eagle Butte twice during the regular season and a third time in the postseason. There was nothing if not a pattern of consistency. The Braves beat the Lady Tigers by 25, 24 and 25 points. The scores were nearly identical at 57-32, 59-35 and 58-33.

The Tigers, while still a long way from makink the second game a tough battle in the fourth quarter, did cut a lot of points out of the margin from game to game. The Braves beat the Tigers 71-35 in the Bridge City and 68-47 in Eagle Butte. That’s a difference of 15 points, and it came on the road. Cutting the difference from 36 points to 21 could be a big deal, depending on how the Tigers execute on Thursday.

It’s pretty easy to figure out, really. The Tigers have to score about 10 points more and make the Braves score about 10 less. If that happens we’re going to have us a good old-fashioned Tigers vs. Braves postseason game. The only difference is that this one will come in the region semifinals instead of the district championship. The same thing is on the line though; the winner advances to the region championship in Pierre looking for a trip to state.

So, I simply had to look back and see if there is a precedent for the Tigers and Braves playing three times in one season. It’s happened too many times to draw a pattern, actually.

Thursday’s game will make it the eighth time the two old rivals have played three times in one season.

The most recent was last year. In case you forgot, the Tigers beat the Braves 87-77 in two overtimes to win the 11A title. During the season the teams split two games with the Tigers winning a 58-52 game and the Braves winning a 74-71 game.

The Tigers’ and Braves’ first three-game season came during the 1986-87 season. The Braves beat the Tigers 71-67 during the regular season that year before the Tigers won a 69-59 game in the district, followed by an 84-70 win in the region.

The Braves put thumpings on the Tigers during the 1998-99 and 2000-01 seasons. The Braves beat the Tigers 70-51, 73-53 and 64-51 in ’98-99 and 62-42, 70-42 and 59-42 in ’00-01.

The Tigers got the best of the Braves the next three times the matchup had a third game. During the 2002-03 season the Tigers beat the Braves 62-50 and the Braves beat the Tigers 64-55 during the regular season before the Tigers beat the Braves by that same 64-55 score in the district.

Two years later in the 2004-05 season, the Tigers won 76-61 and the Braves won 64-60 before the Tigers won 51-43 in the postseason.

The 2005-06 season followed that same pattern. In the regular season the Tigers won 49-32 and the Braves won 53-50. In the district, the Tigers squeaked out a 59-58 win.

So here we are at the postseason. The regular season games were all Braves, but the pressure will be on them on Thursday. The Tigers get to go into Eagle Butte feeling as free as the breeze. They can let it all go and try to pull off the upset. When you look back at the three match-up seasons, you can see that when the Braves are good, the Braves are good. They usually win this game.

But then again, the Tigers have won the third meeting of the season five of the first seven times.

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