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Colome captures Jones County Invitational

Colome's Kelly O'Bryan, center, goes up for a layup against Gregory last season at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Republic file photo)

COLOME — Colome may have won its first Jones County Invitational Tournament since 1980 on Saturday, but for the current Cowboys, it was one year in the making.

The Cowboys lost to White River 47-45 in last year's title tilt and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. It was White River's 19th title overall and its 11th straight.

Colome avenged that defeat with a 52-38 victory in Murdo during the 49th annual tournament, preventing the Tigers from winning their 12th straight tourney crown.

"They have had a lot of success there and success in the state throughout," Colome coach Drew Weber said. "For us to be the one that knocked them out, was pretty special."

Weber said it was a team goal to play in the championship game again this season and to avenge last year's defeat. The Cowboys got there with wins over Bennett County and Stanley County.

That set up a rematch with White River, which has been one of the top teams in Class B basketball for the past dozen years.

"We have been waiting to get this opportunity back," Weber said. "We were just hoping to get matched up with them again in the final."

Playing in front of a packed crowd at the Harold Thune Memorial Auditorium, the Cowboys seized momentum with an early 8-0 lead and led 13-4 after the first quarter. They maintained their lead throughout and held a 37-30 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

Colome continued to execute in crunch time and defensively, it kept the Tigers at bay to secure the win.

"It is a pretty incredible experience for us to be able to get that and do that for our school," said Weber about winning the tournament, which is the longest running in South Dakota.

The Cowboys not only took home some team hardware, but some individual ones as well.

Senior Kelly O'Bryan led the Cowboys with 18 points in the title game and was named the tournament MVP. He scored 57 total points in the three games.

"Kelly played a great tournament," Weber said. "He really set the tone for us energy-wise."

Senior Holden Thieman surpassed 1,000 career points in the championship and also won the Pete Kerns Award for sportsmanship.

Thieman was expected to reach the milestone earlier in the season, but was hampered by an injury from the football season.

"It kind of lined up perfect for him to get that 1,000th point in that setting so he could get honored and (White River coach) Eldon (Marshall) was gracious enough to let us kind of do that at the tournament and kind of take a little time to recognize him in front of a packed crowd," Weber said.

The Cowboys feature a balanced and experienced team, which last year won its first district title in 38 years.

O'Bryan leads the team in scoring (14.7 points per game) and is also third in rebounding (5.9). Junior Kolton Salonen averages 14 points and grabs a team-leading eight rebounds per game. Sophomore Jackson Kinzer (10.1) and Thieman (9.3) are third and fourth respectively in scoring.

O'Bryan, Salonen and senior Will Cahoy are three-year starters, while Kinzer is a two-year starter. Sophomores Layton Thieman and Beau Bertram are regulars off the bench.

"It was really a balanced group," Weber said. "We don't have one guy right now that is going to carry us necessarily, especially with Holden not being 100 percent. So just getting that balanced offense and balanced defense and everybody involved is the key for us."