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Ethan senior Tyler Myers drives to the basket against White River in the third quarter of the quarterfinals during the Class B state boys’ basketball tournament Thursday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. ( Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

Ethan knocks off defending Class B champ White River

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ABERDEEN -- In its first appearance in the state tournament in 13 years, the Ethan boys’ basketball team knocked off the two-time defending state champion.

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Balanced offense and clutch free throws down the stretch pushed the No. 6 seeded Rustlers (21-3) past No. 3 seeded White River (19-5) 73-62 in the quarterfinals of the Class B state tournament Thursday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.

Four players scored in double figures for Ethan, which plays No. 7 Platte-Geddes in the semifinals at 7:45 p.m. today.

“We knew we could have about whatever we wanted and we produced tonight,” Ethan coach Bryce Roth said. “There’s not a lot pressure on us being a lower seed and we are here with reckless abandon.”

The teams traded baskets through two quarters and for the first few minutes of the second half, making for a close game reminiscent of a one-point win by the Tigers over the Rustlers earlier this season at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

Ethan started to pull away after halftime. Holding a four-point lead nearly halfway through the third quarter, the Rustlers went on a 15-4 run, which stretched into the fourth.  

The Rustlers built an 18-point lead with six minutes to play, but the Tigers refused to quit. White River extended the game with steals and fouls, as each team scored 29 points in the final quarter.

“It seemed longer than the rest of my life to this point combined and I think I have a few gray hairs from it,” Roth said about the last five minutes of the game. “We have obviously talked about our game management, but White River is a good team and won’t go down easy.”

The Rustlers hit their free throws -- making 30-of-37 -- and secured the win.

“We’ve developed a way to win over the years,” senior Ethan point guard Blake Bartscher said.

Bartscher scored a game-high 23 points for the Rustlers, making 16-of-18 free throws, while adding five assists and four rebounds.

Camden Myers continued his strong play on both ends of the court, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 rebounds for the double-double and blocking two shots. Senior Jace Connor scored 18 points, while Tyler Myers added 11 points for Ethan, which shot 21-of-40 from the field and outrebounded White River 30-26.

“I just tried to get to the basket and it’s great having so many guys to pass the ball to that I know will finish the layup,” Bartscher said.

White River, which plays No. 2 Langford Area in the consolation semifinals at 1:45 p.m. today, was led by Tavis Burbank with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double, while Justin Prue added 12 points.

“We just couldn’t get into a flow,” White River coach Eldon Marshall said. “We played their tempo. Bad coaching didn’t help and that’s on me.”

The Tigers shot 21-of-51 from the field and 17-of-24 from the free-throw line, while turning the ball over 14 times. Ethan had 13 turnovers.

Ethan 73

White River 62

Ethan (21-3)

Jace Connor 6-7 6-8 18; Blake Bartscher 3-10 16-18 23; Hanner Tillberg 1-3 1-2 3; Camden Myers 8-12 1-2 17; Tyler Myers 3.6 5-6 11; Anthony Donovan 0-1 1-1 1; Abiah Plastow 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 21-40 30-37 73.

White River (19-5)

Justin Prue 4-9 3-3 12; Tre Iyotte 1-8 0-0 3; Tavis Burbank 7-16 8-10 22; Link Tucker 2-5 2-5 7; Justin Folkerts 3-4 2-4 8; Christian BArtlett 4-6 2-2 10; Justince Morrison 0-3 0-0 0; Bubba Young 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 21-51 17-24 62.

E13 27 44 73

WR14 23 33 62

3-point field goals: E 1- 4 (Bartscher 1), WR 3-15. Rebounds: E 30 (C. Myers 11, T. Myers 8), WR 26 (Burbank 10, Folkerts 10). Assists: E 9 (Bartscher 5), WR 5 (Iyotte 4). Steals: E 2 WR 7 (Burbank 7). Turnovers: E 13 (Bartscher 5), WR 14 (Burbank 4). Personal fouls: E 15, WR 26. Technical fouls: none. Fouled out: WR (Iyotte, Tucker).

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