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Lyman girls join state tourney for 1st time in 25 years

PRESHO — When the seniors on this year’s Lyman girls’ basketball team were freshmen, the Raiders were 2-19.

The team gradually got better over the last three years, winning the district title and falling in the region game last season.

The Raider seniors pulled together during their last season, along with the rest of the team, and earned a berth to the Class A state tournament Thursday. Lyman (15-8) defeated Jones County 48-44 in the Region 7B game, qualifying the Raiders for the state tournament for the first time since 1989.

“I think all along we knew we could make it,” said third-year Lyman girls’ head coach Cooper Garnos, whose team is averaging 46 points per game. “We knocked on the door last year and it was the girls’ goal all year to make the state tournament.” The Raiders are the seventh seed in the tournament and open up against No. 2 seed Hanson at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Huron Arena. Lyman has not played the Beavers this season.

This is the fourth time in school history that Lyman has made the Class B state tournament. Garnos said it will finally set in when the team takes the floor in Huron later this week.

Although the basketball team hasn’t had state tournament experience, Garnos isn’t worried about his team coping with the big stage because most of the girls played for the Raider volleyball team. The volleyball team has made state tournament appearances for the last two years.

“I think that’s helpful,” Garnos said. “They have the experience and they won’t be blown away by the atmosphere of the state tournament or playing on a big court.”

The Raiders have leaned on seniors Chesney Garnos, Anna Flitner and Bailey Almond this season. Chesney Garnos and Almond are averaging 8.4 points per game, while Flitner is averaging 7.5 points per game.

Also making a mark on the court has been freshman Brooklyn Halverson.

“Brooklyn is having a huge year for us and she has started the last 16 or 17 games,” Garnos said. “She’s a huge reason of why we’ve gotten better.”

Halverson is averaging 7.2 points per game and leads the team with 4.4 rebounds per game.

Garnos said the team has received support from all of the towns that make up the Lyman school — Presho, Kennebec, Vivian, Reliance and Lower Brule.

“People have crawled out of the woodwork to share their stories from past years playing for Lyman,” he said. “These small towns support athletics or other endeavors and this is one event where they have pulled together.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.