EMERY -- The Bridgewater-Emery girls basketball team is benefitting from St. Thomas More’s East River trip.
The Cavaliers played Elk Point-Jefferson on Friday in Elk Point, and wanted to add another game to their road trip. When Huskies athletic director Jeff VanLeur received an email and told coach Jessie Yttreness about the opportunity, she jumped on it.
Bridgewater-Emery hosts Class A No. 3 St. Thomas More at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Emery, and will host the Cavaliers next season, too. This is the Huskies’ only Class A opponent this season after Bon Homme dropped to Class B.
“We were looking for a game, and they had sent out an email to our AD to say they were coming to play Elk Point-Jefferson and they were looking for one more game this way,” said Yttreness, who added she likes to have at least one Class A opponent per year. “So he said, ‘Do you want to play them?’ The girls got really excited when I asked them and I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll put them on our schedule.’ ”
Winners of five straight Class A state titles from 2014 to 2018, St. Thomas More remains one of the top girls basketball programs in the state. So despite facing an undefeated (heading into Friday’s game) and ranked Class A school, there are plenty of benefits for the Huskies.
The Cavaliers’ talent isn’t lost on Yttreness, who wants to see how her team handles their up-tempo offense and aggressive defense. But she feels the Huskies match up well and a close game could provide them with a confidence boost after starting the season 3-2, with both losses coming to region opponents.
Bridgewater-Emery fell 58-51 at Freeman on Thursday and 54-52 against Viborg Hurley. It has wins over Wessington Springs, Canistota and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket.
“It will kind of tell us where we’re at this early on, and show us what we need to work on,” Yttreness said. “Our goal is to get to the state tournament in March, and in order to do that, we got to play the best and hopefully beat the best. This will give us that experience we need down the road.”
Win or lose, the Huskies will receive two extra seed points for playing a Class A school. In Region 5B, which Yttreness thinks five or six teams are legitimate SoDak 16 contenders, those extra points could be crucial down the stretch.
“We kind of had a couple of rough losses here to start the year,” she said. “If we can get the win, that’d be huge because they’d give us a lot of power points. Our region is back-and-forth between five, six teams, so hopefully it’ll put us up there. Even with a loss, too, it’ll benefit us greatly.”