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Black Panthers, Bartscher win awards at Class B

Platte-Geddes cheerleaders, from left, Denise Dertien, Madi Whalen and Mattie Olson react after winning the Spirit of Six award Saturday at the Class B boys’ basketball tournament at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

ABERDEEN — The halftime break of the Class B championship was filled with special presentation, including the Platte-Geddes cheerleaders winning the highest honor for a sideline squad.

The five members of the Black Panther cheerleading team let out a burst of emotion and ran from under the basket to center court when its name was announced as the Spirit of Six winner at the Class B boys’ basketball state tournament Saturday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.

“It’s a great honor because it helps represent what the girls are doing on the floor while cheering on their teams,” Platte-Geddes coach Marla Tegethoff said shortly after her team won.

The award is given annually at the state tournament in recognition of six cheerleaders and three adults from Rapid City who died when the plane transporting the team burst into flames while attempting to land in 1968.

The South Dakota Peace Officer’s Association presents the award at each of the boys’ and girls’ state tournaments. The judging is based on the team’s crowd control, dress, sportsmanship and enthusiasm during the tournament.

“To do this as a senior is special because you know it’s your last chance,” Platte-Geddes cheerleader Denise Dertien said, adding she was happy to win after missing out on the award last season at the Class A tournament.

The win was the third for the Black Panthers since the Platte-Geddes consolidation began in 2008. The team had back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009, while Platte won the Spirit of Six in 1987.

Ethan’s Bartscher wins Spirit of Su

Blake Bartscher’s senior year has included a state title in football and the first state tournament appearance for the Ethan boys’ basketball team since 2001.

At a halftime presentation during the Class B boys’ basketball championship game Saturday, the point guard added to his accomplishments, winning the Spirit of Su award.

“I was surprised and it is a great honor,” Bartscher said.

While Bartscher’s game on the court has been strong all season, the Spirit of Su award is not just about play on the court. He is the second Rustler to win, with Ethan’s Kyle Storm winning in 2001.

The award is given to the athlete who best exemplifies the life of SuAnne Big Crow, who was killed in a car accident during her senior year at Pine Ridge High School while driving to the 1992 Miss Basketball award banquet. SuAnne took a stand against drugs and alcohol, while excelling in the classroom and giving back to the community.

“There isn’t a more deserving player out there to win this award,” Ethan coach Bryce Roth said. “He has involved himself in the community and his sportsmanship and academics are completely deserving.”

Bartscher, who was also named to the Class B all-tournament team, is involved with youth basketball camps in the community and with his church, which he said has helped him learn more than just basketball. He said his grade point average is 3.75.

College basketball is in Bartscher’s plans, as he plans to play at the next level. He said he is still undecided about where he will play, but is considering Dakota Wesleyan University, Mount Marty College and Morningside College.