2017-12-28 / Sports

So Where Do We Go From Here


PINE RIDGE | The 41st Lakota Nation Invitational is history, both #1 seeds, Todd County on the girl’s and Red Cloud for the boys got knocked off by #8 seeds in Thursday’s quarterfinal round, McLaughlin ended Red Cloud’s Run 74-72 while on the girl’s side Crow Creek upended Todd County 65- 40. Led by junior Marveen Ross and sophomore Kaylee Wells, Crow Creek stormed through both Red Cloud and Pine Ridge for the title. On the boys side, Crow Creek rolled through McLaughlin but was upended by White River in overtime in the championship.

Although fans and families and many players place a good deal of emphasis on the LNI, most coaches take a longer view of the highly regarded tournament; some see it as an early season measuring stick, others as an early season opportunity to see what your team needs to work on in the coming weeks. Over the years, we’ve seen teams peak at LNI and just couldn’t find the momentum throughout the rest of the season. Coaches look to use the LNI as a building block for the rest of the season, growing and improving each game culminating in a positive post season run.

Yes, it’s early in the season but with the new Sweet 16 format to get into the State tournament for all classes, it puts a stronger focus on seeding points, determined by wins and losses and strength of schedule. Ideally you want to be seeded as high as you can coming into the Sweet 16 since All 16 teams are seeded before the bracket is drawn up. At 6-0, White River has 48.5 seeding points, tops for all of Class B boys, coach Eldon Marshall is looking to earn a 13th straight trip to the State B tourney and having a high seed will help his team through the new Sweet16 process. On the girl’s side, Crow Creek is 6-0 as well and has 47.00 seeding points, the highest in Class A girl’s; something the Lady Chieftains will hope to maintain and build on throughout the season.

Some teams in this year’s LNI were missing players, Red Cloud coach Christian McGhee did not have 6’2” junior Jesse Jensen and feels his addition will solidify the team and help the defense. Pine Ridge was missing 6’2” junior Joe O’Rourke who will be eligible second semester, he adds instant offense and brings much needed depth to the Thorpes. Yamni Jack is hoping to get 6’10” junior Nathan Hyde into the mix. We see a number of younger players that just need additional game experience like freshman Sharissa Haas and Stevi Fallis of Red Cloud, Crow Creek freshman Trevin McBride, CEB freshman Spencer Moran or Pine Ridge freshman Moriah Morrisette. Then we see transfers, some have an immediate impact like Matilda Anderson and Kateri Weston of Pine Ridge and others like Cayliah Brady and Haylee Quick Bear at Todd County who will take a bit longer to see their impact on their new team.

We’ve had the early season high or basketball fix of the LNI, now it’s time to watch as a coach develops his or her team, how they handle the peaks and valleys of a season. As we watch teams grow, we will follow individual players, those players who work really hard, who leave their heart on the floor with their extreme effort. Every season is a marathon, not a sprint, who will be standing at the end of the season, who will be peaking at just the right time? And will there be individuals who have picked up their game, have the passion and work ethic to take their game to the next level, playing college ball and furthering their education? Definitely something to look forward to, something to appreciate and to give thanks to all of the coaches, tutors, team managers and families who provide a support system for our student athletes.

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