Lakota Tech girls are off to another astounding start to the season in second year in program history

Mitchell Republic’s Full Court Press, the weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball in South Dakota

Lakota Tech's Tawney Rodriguez drives past Florence/Henry's Aubrie Hartley during a high school girls basketball game at the Hanson Classic on Jan. 15, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Branden Hull / Republic

Through the first 12 games of its first inaugural season last year, the Lakota Tech girls basketball team had a record of 11-1.

History repeated itself as the Tatanka are 11-1 again in their second year in program history, but the differences within the team can’t be shown through its record.

This Lakota Tech team has been challenged all summer, even stiffened its schedule compared to last year’s and now has the opportunity to play in its own home gym.


Last season, Lakota Tech had to play all 17 games on the road, including its Region 7A/8A playoff game against Hill City.

This year, with no modeling or COVID-19 restrictions standing in their way, the Tatanka hosted its first two games of the season. Lakota Tech couldn’t have asked for a much better start, beating both Cheyenne-Eagle Butte and Lower Brule by at least 54 points. The Tatanka are 3-0 at home this season and host the Lakota Tech Classic on Jan. 17.


“Getting to play games in our home gym has been a sigh of relief,” Lakota Tech head coach Laura Big Crow said. “We played 17 games on the road last year and even did a complete circle around the state playing three games in a row. … It’s nice to get to play those games at home and to play where we practice and put in the work.”

Being a new program has come with adverse challenges for Lakota Tech, but after losing in the first round of the region tournament, they went out and found ways to improve just like any other team.

Lakota Tech's Shyleigh Richard sets up the offense with Florence/Henry's Carlie Moe guarding her close during a high school girls basketball game at the Hanson Classic on Jan. 15, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Branden Hull / Republic

They hosted summer camps focused around the basic skills of shooting, dribbling, passing and beginning to see how well they can mesh as a team. They even traveled nearly six hours southwest to Denver, Colorado to play in team camps that featured various Colorado and Wyoming teams that Big Crow said took the team out of its comfort zone but in-turn was beneficial.

“We spent a lot of time together this summer, really just understanding what we represent and finding that comradery between the girls because they’ve come from different schools,” Big Crow said. “We had to learn to play together and found out what everyone’s role is. … We had a strong summer program and I have confidence in all 13 girls that put on a jersey.”

In Lakota Tech’s first game of the season, five different players notched double-figures in scoring in the 65-point blowout. In its most recent win against undefeated Florence/Henry, the Tatanka played 10 players for at least four and a half minutes and three of them scored at least nine points.

Lakota Tech is led by returning junior Shayla Bravo, 6-foot-1 junior Melina Shangreaux, and seniors Tawney Rodriguez, Tobi Carlow and Moriah Morisette, who Big Crow said are all big parts of what they do and at any point are capable of having a big game.

Lakota Tech's Moriah Morisette dribbles out of a team by Florence/Henry's Taylor Watson, right, and Reese Schmidt, middle, during a high school girls basketball game during the Hanson Classic on Jan. 15, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Branden Hull / Republic

The Tatanka have added different teams to this year’s schedule as well including Red Cloud twice, Class A Garretson during the Dakota State University Classic and Class A Florence/Henry during the Hanson Classic.

“We love finding ways to bring our girls over to this side of the state,” Big Crow said. “We know this is where we’ll have to be in order to reach the state tournament. It’s nice to get that experience and get that exposure early in the season.”


The combination of facing stiffer competition since last summer, having another year’s worth of chemistry under its belt and a home gym to finally play a share of its regular season games at, makes this 11-1 start feel much different. Big Crow said the Tatanka have their eyes on the state tournament this season and they have the roster to be a legitimate force to come.

“We’ve really come together and meshed well as a team,” Big Crow said. “Our goal is the state tournament and to keep playing together. We have a great bench and a 13-deep lineup that we can work with.”

Honor roll

Girls top performers

  • Vanessa Doyle scored 21 points in Hanson’s 50-point win over McCook Central/Montrose on Tuesday.
  • Menno’s Bridget Vaith had 16 points, 17 rebounds and four steals for the Wolves in a 36-23 win against Canistota on Tuesday.
  • De Smet’s Jada Burke notched 21 points, along with seven rebounds and four steals to help the Bulldogs keep their perfect season alive as they beat Howard 62-47 on Tuesday. Abby Aslesen finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
  • Mallory Valburg of Jones County recorded 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals in a 58-23 win over Colome on Tuesday.
  • Emilee Fox puts up a near triple-double, 13 points, nine assists and nine steals, as Mount Vernon/Plankinton beat Platte-Geddes 46-33 on Thursday.
  • Corsica-Stickney’s Avery Broughton posted a triple-double of 16 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, along with four steals as the Jaguars topped Winner 53-40 on Thursday evening. Bella Swedlund had 19 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
  • Winner’s Bella Swedlund led all scorers with 23 points and five rebounds in the 55-40 win over Andes Central/Dakota Christian during the Hanson Classic on Saturday. Josie Brouwer scored 19 points and sank five 3-pointers in the loss for the Thunder.
  • Mya Knippling’s double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, along with six blocks propelled Chamberlain past Bon Homme on Saturday.

Boys top performers

  • Sutton Arend had 26 points and 13 rebounds, while shooting 11-for-18 from the field, in Bridgewater-Emery’s win over Colman-Egan on Monday. Arend also had 18 points and eight rebounds in a loss against Ethan on Tuesday.
  • Reed Rus exploded for 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists, eight steals and four blocks as Mount Vernon/Plankinton took down Wessington Springs 63-46 on Tuesday. Rus had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and seven steals in a loss against Platte-Geddes on Thursday.
  • Beresford’s Tate VanOtterloo notched 28 points on 11-for-21 shooting in a win Tuesday over McCook Central/Montrose.
  • Parkston’s Cole Prunty scores 21 points against its rival Wagner to help reach a 51-41 win on Thursday.
  • Tyson Wentland led Corsica-Stickney with 27 points in a 79-59 win over Kimball/White Lake on Friday. Porter Miller had 23 points in the loss for the Wildkats.
  • Daniel Mitchell posted a 20-point, 19-rebound double-double for Gregory as they beat Burke 56-52 on Friday.
  • Wessington Spring’s Cade Mohling canned eight 3-pointers for 26 points while Mason Schelske had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Springs in a 73-52 win over Iroquois/Doland on Saturday.
  • Sanborn Central/Woonsocket’s Tryce Slykhuis scored 24 points, powered by seven 3-pointers, in a 64-54 win against Hitchcock-Tulare on Saturday.
  • Quincy Blue’s 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals led Freeman Academy/Marion past Scotland with a 66-42 win on Saturday.
  • Ben Witt had 26 points while Bryce Frank had 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in Burke’s 63-42 win over Gayville-Volin on Saturday.

Five to watch this week

Keep an eye on these games over the next few days:

  • Two of Class AA top teams face off on Tuesday, Jan. 18 as boys No. 4 Aberdeen Central hosts No. 2 Sioux Falls O’Gorman. Aberdeen Central is looking to bounce back from a three-point loss to Tea Area while O’Gorman is riding a seven game winning streak.
  • In Class B boys, Faulkton Area has a 9-1 record this season and hosts No. 4-ranked Aberdeen Christian. Aberdeen Christian most recently handed Potter County its first loss of the season while Faulkton Area’s one loss this season came against Highmore-Harrold in a 59-58 contest.
  • Andes Central/Dakota Christian girls will look to rebound from its first loss of the season to Winner in the Hanson Classic as they travel to Class B No. 2-ranked Corsica-Stickney on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Corsica-Stickney has won two of its last three games, including a 58-47 win over at the time undefeated Flandreau.
  • Class B girls unanimous No. 1 Aberdeen Roncalli travels to Miller on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Aberdeen Roncalli is still undefeated at 7-0, but Miller hasn’t lost a game at home this season and has a record of 6-2 thus far.
  • Class A No. 5 Flandreau hosts Deuel in a boys basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Deuel is 6-3 this season and will look to take down Flandreau who’s won eight straight games since its four-point season opener loss to Hamlin.
Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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