Kelsey Hunter is going to continue living her life.

Hunter, who is a Miller graduate, is an elementary physical education and health education teacher in Billings, Montana. She’s getting married in June.

But her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in December. Hunter is in the middle undergoing six, 96-hour chemo treatments and has lost her hair. She doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her and is living with a positive attitude.

“I tell people all the time, I am still me,” Hunter, 27, said. “I have not changed. Yes, I am living with cancer, but like I am still me.”

She doesn’t want people to play the pity card for her, but her story has resonated across South Dakota. Hunter’s father -- Darin Hunter -- is the Crow Creek boys basketball coach. At a recent game in McLaughlin, the opposing team presented him with a star quilt prior to the game in honor of his daughter. The Mustangs formed a circle at mid-court with Hunter standing in the center and a Native American song was performed.

Crow Creek coach Darin Hunter is presented with a star quilt a recent game in McLaughlin.
Crow Creek coach Darin Hunter is presented with a star quilt a recent game in McLaughlin.(Courtesy photo)

McLaughlin coach Ray Taken Alive and Darin Hunter visited during warmups. Taken Alive asked about Hunter’s daughter and if the team could do a presentation prior to the game.

Hunter was still blown away by the gesture.

“It was probably one of the most unbelievable things I have been through in my coaching career,” Hunter said. “I am very appreciative. I am just amazed and blown away by the Native American culture.”

Four-hundred miles away in Billings, Kelsey was also blown away by the ceremony from a school she has no connection to.

“I am speechless almost,” Kelsey said. “It’s so cool to see that heritage do such great things. It’s very cool.”

Darin Hunter said coaches and administrators from other schools have reached out to him in regards to Kelsey. Crow Creek has done two fundraisers for Kelsey, “who they don't know, which is amazing,” said Darin, who is in his first season coaching the Chieftains.

“I really appreciate Crow Creek and all they have done for me and they have taken my family under their wing,” Darin said.

Darin doesn’t get to Billings that much right now because of basketball, but several family members make it over there to see Kelsey. He’s got a three-day weekend coming up and he plans to go to see her.

Kelsey, who coaches high school volleyball and middle school track, said it’s frustrating not being around her students. But she has a goal of completing her chemo treatments in April and is taking everything day by day.

“I truly think your mind and your body work hand and hand,” Kelsey said. “Yes, I know what I have and I have come to the realization that we are going to get through it and it’s kind of just a positive attitude from here on out.”

Crow Creek coach Darin Hunter huddles up with his team during a recent game at McLaughlin.
Crow Creek coach Darin Hunter huddles up with his team during a recent game at McLaughlin.(Courtesy photo)

Chiefs snap 78-game losing streak

The No. 78 was written on the whiteboard prior to the Iroquois/Doland girls basketball game against Sunshine Bible Academy on Jan. 10 in Iroquois.

It was erased after the game and so was its 78-game losing streak once it knocked off the Crusaders by a 50-27 margin.

It was Iroquois/Doland’s first victory since the 2015-16 season and coach Jeff Nolte felt this was the season it was coming to an end. Iroquois’ co-op with Doland is in its first season.

“It felt pretty good for me and the girls,” Nolte said. “They have been working all year toward that goal and we’ve been close.”

He had a strong suspicion it would end against the Crusaders and wrote 78 on the whiteboard as a reminder to the team where the streak stood at.

“I wanted to use that as motivation to make sure they knew what was at stake,” Nolte said. “They didn’t realize it was that long.”

After the game, the girls waited for Nolte in the locker room and the number representing the long losing streak was later wiped off the board.

“It’s just relieving to finally get that win since everyone didn’t have any faith in us these past years,” Iroquois/Doland sophomore Katie Dubro said. “But it was good to get that for our fans who have supported us through it.”

Dubro led Iroquois/Doland with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Kaitlyn Maas added 11 points for the Chiefs, who jumped out to a 15-4 first-quarter lead on their way to breaking the streak.

“It’s nice to know we were the girls who worked hard enough to break the streak now and instead of just letting it continue on a few more years,” junior Jorja Huls said.

Dubro has been playing varsity since the seventh grade. Huls and classmate Kaitlyn Maas have been on the varsity since the eighth grade.

But the trio hadn’t tasted victory until beating the Crusaders.

“We’ve never gotten that feeling of winning a varsity game,” Maas said. “So it was just exciting to actually win and get teams to know that we are working hard this year.”

Now, the Chiefs have their sights set on stacking more wins. They were narrowly defeated by Lake Preston (48-42) in their next contest on Jan. 13.

The roster is filled with underclassmen and Nolte said the one win can turn things around for the program.

“We are going to work hard every night and we are going to believe in ourselves we can do it,” Nolte said. “They are taking that on the court with them every single night.”

Members of the Iroquois and Sunshine Bible Academy girls basketball teams huddle after a game on Jan. 10 in Iroquois.
Members of the Iroquois and Sunshine Bible Academy girls basketball teams huddle after a game on Jan. 10 in Iroquois.(Lindsay Nolte / Courtesy photo)

1,000-point club members

Four more players recently joined the 1,000-point club:

  • Micah Lau surpassed 1,000 points in Tripp-Delmont/Armour’s 56-52 win over Kimball/White Lake on Saturday in Tripp. Lau scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds as the Nighthawks overcame a halftime deficit.

  • Lennox’s Josh Arlt hit the milestone when he scored 18 points in a 44-31 win over Pipestone (Minnesota) on Jan. 11.

  • Huron’s Kobe Busch cracked the mark in a 71-50 victory over Brookings on Jan. 14. The Northern State signee finished with 27 points in the win.

  • Herreid/Selby Area’s Rachel Fiedler reached 1,000 career points in the Wolverines 71-24 victory over Leola/Frederick Area on Tuesday. Fiedler finished with 28 points.

ICYMI

Here are some recent basketball-related stories from The Daily Republic:

Weekly honor roll

The blizzard wiped out this weekend’s action, but a flurry of outstanding performances rolled in this past week:

Boys top performers

  • Potter County’s Cooper Logan put in 24 points and eight rebounds in a 63-50 win over Strasburg/Zeeland on Jan. 11.

  • Stone Burke logged 24 points in Clark/Willow Lake’s 67-45 victory over Wilmot on Jan. 11.

  • Benny Benson paced Oelrichs with 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 75-53 win over Philip on Jan. 11.

  • Winner’s Brady Fritz finished with 29 points in a 74-57 victory over Valentine (Neb.) on Jan. 14. He had 32 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Warriors defeated Gregory on Jan. 11.

  • Dakota Valley’s Paul Bruns continued his dazzling junior campaign. The all-stater posted 35 points and 11 rebounds in an 80-68 win over West Central on Jan. 14. Bruns added 36 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a 92-66 win over Hartington Cedar Catholic (Neb.) on Jan. 16. He also landed an offer from the University of Sioux Falls this past week.

  • McLaughlin’s Elias Sims guided the Mustangs to a 66-61 victory over Mobridge-Pollock on Jan. 14. The 6-foot-4 freshman finished with 23 points as McLaughlin erased an early first-quarter deficit for the win.

  • Brian LaRoche Jr. (24 points) and Baptiste Pourier (23 points) paced Lower Brule to a 69-58 victory over Sunshine Bible Academy on Jan. 14.

  • Noah Dickson logged a double-double (26 points, 17 rebounds) in Sanborn Central/Woonsocket’s 59-31 victory over James Valley Christian on Jan. 14.

Howard's Jace Sifore, left, and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's Noah Dickson (5) go after a rebound on Thursday in Forestburg. Howard's Jake Brooks (24) is in the background. (Ryan Deal / Republic)
Howard's Jace Sifore, left, and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's Noah Dickson (5) go after a rebound on Thursday in Forestburg. Howard's Jake Brooks (24) is in the background. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

  • Nick Wittler led Sully Buttes to a 65-41 win over Miller on Jan. 16. The all-state guard finished with 26 points and five steals. Jett Lamb recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 boards for the Chargers.

  • Keshaume Thigh had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Chamberlain as it knocked off Cheyenne-Eagle Butte by a 63-57 margin on Jan. 11. Thigh helped the Cubs rally from a 15-point deficit with seven minutes remaining and they outscored the Braves 25-6 in the final quarter.

  • Tash Lunday had 27 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in Flandreau’s win over McCook Central/Montrose, 66-56, on Jan. 11.

  • Bridgewater-Emery’s Chase Arend recorded 22 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists for the Huskies in a win over Colman-Egan on Jan. 13. He added a game-high 32 points to go with eight rebounds and eight steals in a loss against Ethan on Jan. 14.

  • De Smet’s Kalen Garry finished with 23 points in a 52-48 win over Howard on Jan. 14. Howard’s Jake Brooks scored 24 points for the Tigers.

Girls top performers

  • Langford Area’s Ady Dwight posted another monster double-double with 35 points and 24 rebounds in a 50-39 win over Lyman on Jan. 11.

  • Winner’s Bella Swedlund torched the nets with 21 points as the Warriors defeated Gregory, 70-40, on Jan. 11. She added 23 points as Winner stayed undefeated with a 67-29 victory over Valentine (Neb.) on Jan. 14.

  • Lennox’s Madysen Vlastuin scored 23 points and led the Orioles to a 55-45 victory over Crofton (Neb.) on Jan. 11.

  • Howard’s Hilary Albrecht finished with 27 points in a 46-43 loss against De Smet on Jan. 14. She added 25 points, 10 rebounds and three steals in Howard’s win over Iroquois/Doland on Thursday.

  • Castlewood’s Alayna Benike logged 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 60-22 win over Great Plains Lutheran on Jan. 16.

  • Corsica-Stickney’s Avery Broughton stuffed the stat sheet again on Jan. 11. The freshman finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a 54-46 win over Wagner. The all-stater posted 33 points and seven rebounds as the Jaguars defeated Platte-Geddes by a 62-29 victory on Jan. 13.

  • Grace Konechne and Kennedy Leiferman paced Kimball/White Lake to a 54-46 overtime win over Sanborn Central/Woonsocket on Jan. 14. Konechne finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Leiferman recorded 19 points, 14 rebounds and five steals.

  • Menno’s Morgan Edelman finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals for the Wolves in a 53-29 win over Canistota on Jan. 14.

  • Jones County’s Jadyn Jensen registered 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals in a 44-36 win over Colome on Jan. 14.

  • Hanson’s Morgan Huber scored a game-high 29 points as the Beavers beat Parker 63-36 on Jan. 14.

  • McCook Central/Montrose’s Jacy Pulse posted 32 points, six rebounds and three steals in the Fighting Cougars 74-29 win over Sioux Valley on Jan. 16.

McCook Central/Montrose's Jacy Pulse puts up a shot against Howard earlier this season in Salem.
McCook Central/Montrose's Jacy Pulse puts up a shot against Howard earlier this season in Salem. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

What’s ahead

Here are a few items to keep an eye for the upcoming week:

  • The girls Hanson Classic was moved to Monday due to the weather, but intriguing matchups remain on the schedule. No. 1 Winner vs. No. 2 Lennox, No. 1 Corsica-Stickney vs. No. 4 White River and No. 3 St. Thomas More vs. No. 4 McCook Central/Montrose headline the matchups.

  • Northeast Conference rivals Aberdeen Roncalli and Groton Area will meet on Jan. 23 in boys basketball action in Aberdeen. The Cavaliers have owned the rivalry the past several years and have won a whopping 36 straight games in the series. Groton’s last victory over Roncalli came on Jan. 5, 2005. Groton is currently 6-0 and Roncalli is 0-7. Could this be the season Groton snaps the losing streak?

  • There are some interesting girls basketball matchups between ranked teams on Jan. 23. No. 1 Corsica-Stickney hosts No. 3 Ethan in Corsica, No. 2 De Smet plays at No. 5 Castlewood and No. 2 Lennox plays at West Central (honorable mention) in Hartford.