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Pentagon event is a winner for Tigers

The World's Only Corn Palace has been and will be home to Dakota Wesleyan University basketball teams for a long time. But over the weekend, the Sanford Pentagon was a welcoming venue for the Tiger basketball teams. The Tigers were the unofficial...

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The World's Only Corn Palace has been and will be home to Dakota Wesleyan University basketball teams for a long time.

But over the weekend, the Sanford Pentagon was a welcoming venue for the Tiger basketball teams. The Tigers were the unofficial champions of the South Dakota NAIA Basketball Classic, which was held for the first time Saturday and Sunday in Sioux Falls. The Tigers won all four they were involved in, sweeping Dakota State and Presentation in the men's and women's contests.

DWU and Mount Marty College are in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and Dakota State and Presentation College are in the North Star Athletic Association and the goal is for the schools to play their two non-league in-state opponents each year. The tournament was the idea of Mount Marty's basketball coaches and administration, including Athletic Director Chuck Iverson.

"I made a point in telling him that I appreciated him taking the lead on getting that all set up," DWU men's basketball coach Matt Wilber said. "In an NAIA school, you play in some crazy places. There's a lot of gyms on the road that you would define as the old-time cracker boxes. Anytime we can play in a facility like the Pentagon, we're going to enjoy that and that was a big-time event and big games for us close to home."

Mount Marty took the reins in hosting the event for the first time in 2016 and each of the other three schools will host the event through 2019. Dakota State will host in 2017, followed by the Tigers in 2018 and Presentation in 2019.

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"It's a great event and I think we had a lot of fun," DWU women's basketball coach Jason Christensen said. "Playing on the Pentagon floor is a neat thing and I think our kids really relished it."

For a Tiger women's basketball team playing nine straight games away from home to start the season, it was close enough to Mitchell to do the job.

"We've been on the road so much, being an hour away was nice. I don't think I can even name all of the places we've practiced in the last week. We practiced at the Wellness Center. We practiced in Groton on the way to Valley City, North Dakota. We'll take a game an hour away."

And after shooting 59 percent for the two games in Sioux Falls, you can pencil Wilber and the Tiger men down for a few more games, too.

"If we're going to shoot like that over there, I'm good with playing as many games over there as we can," he said.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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