Battle of the Best Games: Sully Buttes edged Ethan in 2016 title tilt

From left, Sully Buttes' Olivia Rausch, Rachel Guthmiller and Chloe Lamb celebrate Guthmiller's basket and 3-point play attempt in the second half of the Class B girls basketball state championship game on March 12, 2016 at the Huron Arena.

HURON -- Sully Buttes and Ethan locked horns in four straight state girls basketball tournaments from 2015 to 2018.

They were always knock-down, drag-out, low-scoring affairs with plenty at stake. They split the four meetings, with each powerhouse winning two games at state.

After falling 31-28 in the 2015 state championship to Ethan, Sully Buttes used the defeat as motivation and went undefeated the following season. The Chargers exacted the ultimate measure of revenge, pulling away from the Rustlers for a 33-25 victory in the 2016 Class B state championship at the Huron Arena.

“That was in the back of everyone’s mind,” Sully Buttes coach Mark Senftner said about the 2015 title game. “You don’t forget about a game like that and especially when you end the season on that note.”

Both games are finalists for The Daily Republic’s Battle of the Best Games girls series. The Daily Republic’s Battle of the Best Games, which started last month by having readers vote on their top high school basketball title games, has picked four finalists in both the boys and girls divisions.


Readers are being called upon again to pick the No. 1 game in each category through online balloting. Voting is now open through, and will remain open through today.

The Chargers had vengeance on their mind after the 2015 defeat, but both teams returned a bevy of talented seniors and underclassmen. They battled at the Hanson Classic in another slugfest, with Sully Buttes handing the Rustlers a 39-35 defeat in overtime.

“They were a very good team,” former Sully Buttes guard Deidre Lamb said. “Their coach (Tom Young) is very well versed and Mr. Senftner is a very excellent coach. It all came down to the coaching in the end, in my opinion. Both sides had very good players at that point and had lost some players, but got others that stepped up quite a bit.”

The 2016 installment was almost a carbon copy of the previous meetings. The Chargers bolted out to a 9-2 lead in the opening period thanks in part to three-point field goals from Deidre Lamb and Chloe Lamb. The Rustlers responded with seven straight points to tie the score before Deidre Lamb and Olivia Rausch made back-to-back three pointers to give the Chargers a 15-9 lead after the first period.

They were the final 3-pointers of the night for Sully Buttes, but they helped establish an early cushion between the defensive-minded teams.

“Defensively, they were one of the best in the state,” Senftner said. “To score 15 points and shoot the ball like we did … that gave us a lot confidence and momentum to start the game.”

The defense was cranked up even more as they combined for 10 total points in the second quarter. The Chargers held a 19-15 halftime advantage and 23-19 entering the fourth quarter.

The game was knotted up at 23-23 with just under six minutes left. It proved to be closing time for the Chargers, who outscored the Rustlers 10-2 down the stretch.


Chloe Lamb made two free throws before Rachel Guthmiller converted a crucial three-point play for a 28-23 advantage with 4:15 left. From there, Deidre Lamb and Chloe Lamb each added two more free throws to help secure the state title. The cousins both scored 11 points apiece. Deidre Lamb is set to graduate from the University of South Dakota with a degree in medical lab science. Chloe Lamb will be a senior for the USD women’s basketball team next season.

Sully Buttes shot just 8 of 36 from the field for 22 percent, but it went 13 of 17 at the free-throw line.

“You don’t get a lot of great looks against them and we didn’t give them a lot of great looks,” Senftner said. “But we were able to get to the free-throw line and score. That was a big plus for us.”

After the final buzzer sounded, the vengeance tour was complete and the Chargers were finally able to exorcise the 2015 demons. Deidre Lamb, one of four Charger seniors, was also finally able to bask in the glory.

She received the Spirit of Su at halftime, but only had one thing on her mind: hoisting the team trophy.

“I was ‘OK, let’s go back to the game,’ ” she said about receiving the prestigious award. “ ‘I came here to win.’ I was ready to get back on the court and start playing again. I didn’t really want to celebrate that until afterward.”

Seniors Deidre Lamb, Olivia Rausch, Kristen Sieck and Erin Foth were also able to celebrate their elusive state title. The season was the culmination of a four-year stretch that saw Sully Buttes place fourth, third, second and first.

“It was a really awesome experience to be able to do that with this team I have been playing with since I was kid,” Deidre Lamb said. “We were coming back with a vengeance and we did it.”


The quartet also joined their siblings as winning state basketball championships. Deidre’s sisters -- Katelynn and Elizabeth -- were on back-to-back state title teams in 2007 and 2008. Brother Jordan Lamb was a member of the 2009 state boys basketball championship team. Kristen Sieck’s sister, Amanda, was a member of the back-to-back title teams. Brother Brandon Sieck was on the 2009 title team. Foth and Rausch both had a brother -- Tanner Foth and Alex Rausch -- on the 2009 championship team.

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