Ethan girls, boys basketball programs make simultaneous runs to state tournament as 'one big team'

"These things don’t just happen," said Ethan superintendent Tim Hawkins. "It’s a whole effort all the way from our students, to our parents, to the community."

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Decorations cover the entrance for the Ethan girls basketball team on Friday, March 10, 2023 at the Huron Event Center.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

HURON — For more than a week now, the community of Ethan has been abuzz over the successes of its high school basketball teams.

On March 2, the girls basketball team earned a bid to its eighth Class B state tournament in nine seasons. Five days later, the boys team secured its place among the final eight, marking the first time in school history that both programs qualified for their respective state tournaments.

As such, the buzzing has reached a fever pitch, and it’s felt by everyone from the student-athletes to members of the close-knit community of approximately 350 residents.

“Obviously, we were excited that the girls got in and that was awesome, but then the boys got in and it was even better yet,” said Amy Storm, a self-professed basketball super-fan whose son, Kory, is a senior on the boys team. “Little, tiny Ethan got put on the map by both teams making it, and with it being the first time our school has done that, it’s fun to be a part of it.”

“It just speaks volumes about our kids that we have right now,” added superintendent Tim Hawkins. “These things don’t just happen. It’s a whole effort all the way from our students, to our parents, to the community.”


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Decorations cover the entrance for the Ethan girls basketball team on Friday, March 10, 2023 at the Huron Event Center.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

That community support doesn’t go unnoticed.

Storm said she’s received an outpouring of congratulations on social media and encounters people day-to-day, both around Ethan and even in other communities like Mitchell, who comment on the basketball success.

On the court, the Rustlers feel that the community has their back, which provides a welcome boost.

“Our fans are the best fans and they have been for years on years,” said Ethan senior Brody Riggs, a member of the boys basketball team who was in the front row leading cheers for the Ethan girls during Thursday’s state quarterfinal win. “We go to away games and see our crowd outnumber the home team. It’s awesome to have that support that helps build us up when times are looking tough.”

While excitement swirls, having both basketball teams advance to the final stage of the season isn’t without its challenges behind the scenes.

From an administrative perspective, Hawkins admits that it’s almost never expected for both teams to make it to state, but Ethan normally takes the Friday of both state tournament weekends off from school to remain fair. However, for example, the school had budgeted in anticipation of one team making it to state, not both.

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Ethan's Annalise Buenning, center, high fives her teammates during the introductions for the Class B girls basketball quarterfinals on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at the Huron Arena. 
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

But when it comes to schools preparing and organizing for such events, the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s scheduling to make sure large postseason events don’t take place concurrently is helpful. In Ethan’s case, parents provide several more sets of welcomed helping hands.

“We keep saying, ‘These are good problems,’” Storm said. “... It’s just a matter of making all the phone calls and this and that to get everything coordinated.”


Qualifying both basketball teams for the state tournament is difficult, but not altogether uncommon. This season in Class B, Ethan is one of three schools to do so alongside Viborg-Hurley and Castlewood. On the Class A side, there were two: Hamlin and Sioux Falls Christian.

But according to Riggs, both halves of Ethan basketball making a run feels extra special.

“It’s exciting because we support the girls every game and then it’s fun to see their support for us,” Riggs said. “It’s not the boys and the girls made it (separately), it’s we all made it. It’s not one or the other, we look at each other as one big team.”

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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