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Chargers power past Nighthawks

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Sully Buttes' Lauren Wittler, left, and Tripp-Delmont/Armour's Erica Koster, right, go for the ball during a prep girls basketball game at the Parkston Classic on Thursday in Parkston. (Eric Mayer / Republic) 2 / 2

PARKSTON — It took one half, but once the Sully Buttes Chargers got going, they were tough to slow down.

Powered by the one-two punch of Lauren Wittler and Rachel Guthmiller, who combined to score 44 points, top-ranked Sully Buttes shrugged off a slow start and cruised past Tripp-Delmont/Armour 57-44 at the Parkston Girls Classic on Thursday in Parkston.

"They are the No. 1 team for a reason," TDA head coach Kristi Allen said. "They took us out of our game. Our rebounding absolutely killed us. We are a smaller team and we knew we'd struggle, but that was a difference maker."

Trailing 27-25 at halftime, Sully Buttes (3-0) turned up its defensive intensity and held the Nighthawks (2-2) to seven points in the third quarter and 10 points in the fourth quarter.

While the Chargers' defense kept TDA at bay, Wittler and Guthmiller proceeded to light up the scoreboard. Wittler, a 5-foot-8 forward, scored a game-high 23 points, doing most of her damage in the second half in which she scored 15 points. Guthmiller added 21 points, going 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.

"Offensively, we just took our time and took what they gave us," Sully Buttes head coach Mark Senftner said. "We passed much better in the second half. We handled their pressure much better."

The game started in TDA's favor, as the Nighthawks' jumped out to an early 10-2 lead, frustrating the Chargers with a full-court press. As the quarter wore on, the tempo started to slow down and Sully Buttes trimmed the deficit to 17-14 at the end of the period.

"We were giving them too many easy opportunities in the first quarter," Senftner said. "After that, we played much better team defense and that was the key for us."

Sully Buttes reclaimed the lead at 25-23 late in the second quarter, but TDA scored the final four points of the first half to take a two-point lead into halftime. Erica Koster led the Nighthawk offense with 13 points, while Brooklyn Brouwer and Kianna Payer each added 10 points and Mattilynn Reiner finished with five points.

With only two players taller than 5-foot-8, Allen said TDA will have to find ways to combat its lack of size inside. The Nighthawks host Viborg-Hurley on Tuesday in Tripp.

"We have to try and push the ball more," Allen said. "We have to have that fast tempo to make up for that lack of height. Get the ball and push it."

Senftner added the two-time defending state champion Chargers always enjoy competing in the Parkston Classic.

"We love coming here and the competition is good," said Senftner, whose team takes on Mobridge-Pollock on Tuesday in Mobridge. "There's usually good games and I like watching good basketball."

TDA 17 27 34 44

SB 14 25 38 57