For some reason, the final story didn’t get posted on the Argus website, so here it is.
Lyle Pearson is going out on top. After leading the Lincoln girls to their first-ever Class AA state basketball title last winter, Pearson confirmed on Friday that he has resigned from the position.
The decision was something already in the making for the coach as he gave himself a five-year window after taking over the program in 2008.
“I said in the interview that I’d go five years and then we’d take a look at it,” said Pearson, who put together a 66-48 record over that span. “What I was hoping to do was build it up a little and see if we could get ‘em on the right track. I’d like to think we did that.”
The Patriots went 17-8 under Pearson last season, ending the campaign with a 51-36 win over defending champion Mitchell in the state title game. Though the Pats, a senior laden team last winter, lose several key players to graduation, Pearson said that wasn’t a factor in his decision.
“Whether it’s hours or minutes or seconds, we all get our fifteen. Nobody gets forever,” said Pearson. “It just came down to, ‘If it’s not now, then when?’”
Prior to coaching the Lincoln girls, Pearson spent 18 seasons as the Patriot boys coach. That stint was peppered with 14 of state tournament appearances, including a championship in 1995. He also spent time at Roslyn, Clark and Brandon Valley, compiling a 362-215 record over 25 years as a boys coach.
Pearson will continue coaching the boys golf team, which won a state title last fall, but hinted that he may be counting down his time on the links as well.
“I’m kind of weeding myself out of this and slowly working my way toward full retirement,” he joked. “That’s kind of scary.”
Here’s a look at the teams for tonight’s Class A state boys basketball championship game between No. 5 Tea and No. 3 Madison in Rapid City, 9 p.m. CT.
TEA AREA (22-3)
Title game appearances: First
State titles: None
Road to the championship: Spearfish, W 60-53; Platte-Geddes, W 65-33
Key players (tournament stats)
Chase Deckert: 7 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl
Riley Knutson: 17 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast, 12 stl, 4 blk
Mitchell Nissen: 13 pts, 11 reb, 4 stl
Connor Shaull: 43 pts, 48% FG, 12 reb, 5 stl
Adam Waterman: 9 pts
Gunnar Ensz: 13 pts, 7 stl
Tourney offense: 62.5 ppg, 43% FG
Tourney defense: 43 ppg, 36% FG
Titans win if…
1) Connor Shaull (21.5 ppg) continues to score at will. The senior keyed a pair of crucial runs during the Titans’ win over Spearfish as well as a 16-0 stretch that blew the game open against Platte-Geddes.
2) They can weather Madison’s depth. The Bulldogs can play eight or nine deep with little drop-off. That’s especially important if Tea finds itself in foul trouble. The Titans can’t afford to have Shaull, Knutson or Nissen on the bench for long stretches.
3) They can put together a good start. With this being Tea’s first championship game, nerves can be expected early. But the Titans, who have forced 49 turnovers over two games, have been at their best so far when they can pull ahead and play loose on defense.
Title game appearances: 1920, 1921, 1924, 1929, 1944 (B), 1945 (B), 2008, 2009, 2010
State titles: 1921, 1945 (B), 2009, 2010
Road to the championship: Pine Ridge, W 70-34; Mobridge-Pollock, W 66-30
Jesse Brown: 15 pts, 44%FG, 22 reb, 4 stl
Jacob Giles: 17 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb
Mason Sullivan: 4 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl
Trae VandeBerg: 23 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb
Tyler Wiebe: 26 pts, 12-13 FT, 16 reb, 6 ast
Rush Milne: 15 pts, 47% FG, 14 reb
Braxton Olson: 13 pts, 63% FG, 9 reb
Tourney offense: 68 ppg, 47% FG
Tourney defense: 32 ppg, 28% FG
Bulldogs win if…
1) They can bend, not break. Madison likely isn’t going to keep up its tourney averages (68 ppg, 32 ppg allowed) because Tea is much a better opponent than Pine Ridge and Mobridge-Pollock. The Bulldogs haven’t had to play a full four quarters this weekend, therefore avoiding a second-half lull will be important.
2) Any combination of their top contributors gets going. VandeBerg and Wiebe have paced Madison so far, but if Brown or Milne can create a third go-to option tonight then Tea could be in trouble.
3) They either match or stop the Titans’ runs before they get out of hand. Tea has been the most tested team in the tournament so far, thus forced to put together solid stretches of basketball that have turned the game over. A 4-5 minute stretch of unanswered dominant play could be all the Titans need.
Prediction: Madison has looked unstoppable this weekend, but part of that has to do with inferior competition. Tea’s defense has been impressive, but the Titans can’t afford to come out sluggish on offense. I don’t see a lot of lead changes tonight, so whoever can create a cushion will be in control. Bulldogs 58, Titans 51
Spirit of Su watch (through two tourney games):
Skyler Flatten, Clark/Willow Lake: 23.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.5 bpg
Connor Shaull, Tea: 21.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.5 spg
Dominic King, Aberdeen Roncalli: 16 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.5 spg, 2 bpg
Coby Johnson, Platte-Geddes: 16 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 apg
Tyler Wiebe, Madison: 13 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg
Predictions (sure to go wrong) for all the boys state tournament action this weekend. I’ll be in Rapid City this weekend for Class A. Follow me on Twitter (@Justin_Wulf) for updates.
CLASS AA (in Sioux Falls)
Roosevelt (21-1) over Rapid City Stevens (10-13)
Brandon Valley (16-6) over Huron (16-7)
Pierre (17-5) over Rapid City Central (10-11)
Brookings (17-6) over Lincoln (12-11)
Roosevelt over Brandon Valley
Pierre over Brookings
Roosevelt over Pierre
*Chalk is boring, but these are the two best teams in the state.
Spirit of Su: Chase Marso, Brandon Valley
CLASS A (in Rapid City)
Clark/Willow Lake (21-0) over Platte-Geddes (16-7)
Tea Area (20-3) over Spearfish (18-5)
Aberdeen Roncalli (16-4) over Mobridge-Pollock (18-5)
Madison (21-2) over Pine Ridge (14-8)
Clark/Willow Lake over Tea Area
Madison over Aberdeen Roncalli
Madison over Clark/Willow Lake
*Bulldogs capture third title in five years.
Spirit of Su: Riley Knutson, Tea Area
CLASS B (in Aberdeen)
White River (22-1) over Langford Area (19-4)
Potter County (22-0) over South Central (21-2)
James Valley Christian (21-2) over Viborg/Hurley (21-2)
Arlington (17-4) over Dupree (22-1)
White River over Potter County
James Valley Christian over Arlington
White River over James Valley Christian
*Fourth title (and sixth title game) in six years for the Tigers.
Spirit of Su: Tage Hargens, Arlington
Here’s a look at the teams in tonight’s Class AA state girls basketball championship game between fifth-seeded Lincoln and third-seeded Mitchell in Rapid City, 9 p.m. CT (8 p.m. MT).
Title game appearance: 1984, 1986, 1989
State titles: None
Road to the championship: Roosevelt, W 41-37; Aberdeen Central, W 50-48
Starters (tournament stats)
Cera Ledbetter: 11-22 FG, 14-19 FT, 36 pts, 19 reb, 9 blk
Darby Hugunin: 8-28 FG, 18 pts, 12 reb
Ellie Brecht: 10-18 FG, 21 pts, 5 reb
Mica Standing Soldier: 1-7 FG, 3 pts, 7 reb
Shelby Merritt: 1-5, 3 pts, 4 stl
Offense: 36% shooting, 45.5 ppg
Defense: 31% shooting, 42.5 ppg
Patriots win if…
1) They can get to the free throw line. Ledbetter has closed out each of the Pats wins at the line, scoring six straight against Roosevelt and the game-winners against Aberdeen Central. At the same time, Lincoln can’t afford for their primetime post to get in foul trouble.
2) They can keep up the defensive pressure. Lincoln held the Riders to 14 percent shooting in the first half, then used its speed to disrupt the Eagles’ ability to get set with a bigger lineup.
3) Someone other than Ledbetter to has a big game. Ledbetter has been the cornerstone for the tournament success thus far with Brecht stepping up against Roosevelt and Hugunin having a nice all-around performance against Aberdeen Central.
Title game appearances: 1977 (A), 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2012
State titles: 1990, 1992, 1994, 2003, 2012
Road to the championship: Rapid City Central, W 54-43; Washington, W 46-37
Starters (tournament stats)
Macy Miller: 13-23 FG, 8-10 FT, 35 pts, 14 reb, 5 stl
Kerri Young: 5-13 FG, 8-9 FT, 18, pts, 15 reb, 11 ast, 3 stl
Kristin Sabers: 12-19 FG, 30 pts, 12 reb
Megan Farnham: 4-8 FG, 11 pts, 3stl
Courtney Moore: 1-3 FG, 4 pts, 7 reb
Offense: 41% shooting, 50 ppg
Defense: 29% shooting, 40 ppg
Kernels win if…
1) Miller can duplicate her performance on Friday night against Washington. The junior matched the Warriors trip-for-trip in a rematch of last year’s title game. She’s been the catalyst for Mitchell all season, averaging 19.6 ppg on 51% shooting while leading the team with 69 steals.
2) They can keep up the energy. After jumping out to an 11-point lead on Rapid City Central in the first round, Mitchell let the Cobblers chip their way back into the game before pulling away in the fourth. The Kernels did a better job against Washington, but there was a lot of emphasis on the matchup and taking Lincoln lightly could be a mistake.
3) Sabers continues to surge. The senior averaged 8.8 ppg on 39% shooting during the season, but has scored 15 in each tournament game while firing at a 63 % clip.
Prediction: I took the Pats to knock off Roosevelt in the first round, then switched gears on my original pick of Aberdeen Central in the semis hours before game time. As much as I’d like to ride the Lincoln bandwagon until the end, I’m not sure the Patriots have an answer for Miller-Young-Sabers. Kernels 54, Patriots 45
* The Lincoln student section has evolved over the last 48 hours. Throughout the first half of the Patriots’ tournament opener against Roosevelt consisted of four students. By the end of the game, another group of red and white had joined in the form of Rapid City Central students. For Friday’s contest against Aberdeen Central, Roosevelt apparel had found its way into the Lincoln fold. Should be interesting to see who else joins the Lincoln plight tonight. By the way, the Patriots should take home the Spirit of Six award this weekend.
*Speaking of awards, the Sprit of Su chase has to be down to:
-Cera Ledbetter, Lincoln: 18 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.5 bpg, 50% FG
-Emma Hanson, Washington: 19 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 65% FG
-Kristin Sabers, Mitchell: 15 ppg, 6 rpg, 63% FG
-Kerri Young, Mitchell: 9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 1.5 spg
Note: The Spirit of Su recipient has only played in the championship game three times (1995, 2000, 2003).