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Mount Vernon/Plankinton's furious second-half rally falls short to Dakota Valley in SoDak 16

Titans trailed by 19 with 12 minutes left before nearly completing comeback

Mount Vernon/Plankinton Reagan Rus
Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reagan Rus gets set to make a shot in a Class A SoDak 16 girls high school playoff basketball game on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Tea.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

TEA, S.D. — For every big shot Mount Vernon/Plankinton was able to hit on Thursday night, Dakota Valley had an answer to meet the moment.

In the moment that was the Class A SoDak 16 state qualifier, it was enough for the Panthers to get back to the state tournament for a second-straight season.

Seventh-seeded Dakota Valley led by as many as 18 points at the midway point of the third quarter, then saw its lead shrink down to only four points by the midway point in the fourth frame before holding on for a 63-54 SoDak 16 girls basketball victory over the No. 10 Titans.

Dakota Valley coach Tammy Lilly said she had a sense the game would be a rollercoaster contest from the moment the matchup was announced.

“We knew it from the moment we were going to play them. They’re just that good and have that kind of talent that you’re never really going to have them put away until it’s actually over. Give MVP credit tonight, they fought like crazy but I’m proud of our kids.”

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After holding a 33-21 halftime advantage, the Panthers (19-4) nearly had the game on ice early in the second half, leading 44-25 with 4:33 remaining after Grace Bass had a key basket. Bass scored six of the first 11 points in the third quarter for Dakota Valley.

Mount Vernon / Plankinton girls basketball, Emilee Fox
Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Emilee Fox steps back for a shot against Dakota Valley in a SoDak 16 girls high school playoff basketball game on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Tea.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

It was at that point that Emilee Fox, the Titans’ do-everything sophomore guard, found another gear and let her talent take over, said MVP coach Preston Kristensen. Fox was at the lead for the Titans to hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter, along with two 3-pointers from Kyla Schmidt, helped MVP (17-6) to get within eight points in the final seconds of the third frame, only to see Bass pour in another 3-pointer to put the lead at 51-40.

“We just talked about chipping away and that it wasn't going to take just one player or one possession but we had to keep playing as a team and working together,” Kristensen said of the effort to rally in the second half.

MVP pulled to within seven points with 75 seconds gone in the fourth quarter before Shyla Tobin had a 3-pointer for the Titans to get within four. The Titans had two 3-pointers quickly answered by Panthers’ threes of their own, including one from Peyton Tritz with 3:20 left to put Dakota Valley up seven, keeping the lead at least that large for the remainder of the game. Over the final 4:22 of game time, Dakota Valley outscored MVP 7-2.

“They have a great team and they responded to our runs,” MVP coach Preston Kristensen said. “We kind of dug ourselves too big of a hole there in the first half and that made it tough on us.”

Bass was the hero for the Panthers on Thursday, scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including three of DV’s six 3-pointers. Dakota Wesleyan signee Rylee Rosenquist, who is the Panthers’ leading scorer, had 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in an all-around effort playing all 32 minutes. Jorja Van Den Hull had 11 points, while Tritz and Brooke Carlson each had eight points for the Panthers, who will make their third all-time state tournament appearance and will return after finishing sixth in 2021.

Mount Vernon / Plankinton girls basketball, Nyomi Mahrt
Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Nyomi Mahrt goes up for a shot in a Class A SoDak 16 girls high school basketball playoff game on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Tea.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

Fox, a commit to South Dakota State for basketball, nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Fox, Reagan Rus and Tobin battled foul trouble throughout the game, including Fox and Rus picking up two each in the first quarter but the Titans did not have a player foul out. The game was the second meeting in less than five weeks, with Dakota Valley winning the prior meeting between the two teams, 51-43, on Jan. 29 in Sioux Falls.

MVP, which was playing in its third SoDak 16 round in the last four seasons, was kept to 31% shooting in the first half and corrected course in the second half by shooting nearly 60% in the second half, draining 13 of 22 shots from the field and 7-of-13 3-pointers. MVP did not make a 3-pointer in the first half and finished with a 30-25 rebounding edge.

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The Titans’ Maria Baker finished with 11 points, while Schmidt and Rus each had eight. Dakota Valley finished with a 13-for-15 night at the free-throw line, while MVP only took four foul shots, making three.

“There’s always going to be a winner and a loser but I’m proud of our girls, not just tonight but really all season because they showed how hard they’re willing to work as a team,” Kristensen 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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