State girls basketball notebook: Ethan exceeds expectations once again

The Rustlers captured third place this past Saturday at the state tournament, which was their seventh-straight appearance. Ethan finished 22-4 after its win over Corsica-Stickney at the Huron Arena.

The Ethan Rustlers hoist their Class B third-place trophy after defeating Corsica-Stickney 59-48 during the state tournament on Saturday at the Huron Arena.

Ethan finished its season at a familiar place: the Class B state girls basketball tournament.

The Rustlers captured third place this past Saturday at the state tournament, which was their seventh-straight appearance. Ethan finished 22-4 after its win over Corsica-Stickney at the Huron Arena.

It’s a finish not even Tom Young could have envisioned this offseason.

“I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” Young said. “We were 1-5 this summer in the Sanford Pentagon League and I met with the girls at the end of July and you could tell they didn’t have the most confidence.”

But the confidence grew during the season, despite losses against Class A teams Winner, Mount Vernon/Plankinton and Class B foe Corsica-Stickney. The Rustlers again relied on stout defense and balanced scoring to reach the state tournament.


“I had the confidence in my teammates and myself and I am really glad we are here,” Ethan senior Lexi Lingemann said.

After Saturday’s third-place finish, Ethan has advanced to the semifinals in six of the past seven seasons. It won the state championship in 2015, while adding runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2019.

The Rustlers will likely be contenders again next season. Lingemann and Cameryn Logan are the lone seniors, but will return starters Ava Lingemann, Hannah Bartscher and Maddy Bartscher.

While the foundation has been set, Young said the Rustlers still need to stay committed in the offseason.

“We haven’t been here for seven years in a row by not working this summer and we work in the summer,” Young said. “They put in the time and it shows up in March. If we didn’t put in the time and we didn’t put in the effort, we wouldn’t be here.”



Scoring harder to come by in AA girls tourney

The first trip to the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls was also among the toughest when it has come to scoring in the Class AA state tournament.

In the 12 games played over the three-day tournament, scoring was 45.08 points per team per game. It is the lowest-scoring Class AA girls tournament since the big-school teams began playing with a shot clock in the 2008-09 season, going back 12 years.

The 2021 tournament still had far more scoring than the final year without a shot clock in 2008, when the Class AA field averaged 40 points per game.

Mitchell High School coach Cole Knippling said the low-scoring nature of the tournament spoke to the quality of the eight-team field.

“When you look at this tournament field, there are some teams that play some really good basketball and play really good defense, so it’s going to be hard to get quality looks at the basket and make shots,” Knippling said Friday.

It wasn’t a bad shooting weekend, however, for the Mitchell Kernels. MHS shot 38.3% over three days in the state tournament, and only O’Gorman shot the ball better at 41.1%. Even state champions Sioux Falls Washington only shot at a 35.2% clip for the state tournament.

The tournament was Mitchell’s best 3-point shooting stretch of the season, making 22 of 51 3-pointers in three games (43.1%). Twenty of those 22 3-pointers came from senior guards Avia Haley (12-of-23) and Camryn Krogman (8-of-12).


Unfortunately, the Kernels faced the wrong opponents on the wrong days, scoring the third-most points in the tournament but finishing with only one victory. That included facing Sioux Falls O’Gorman, which scored 69 points for a 27-point win in the quarterfinals. After a 48-40 win over Rapid City Central on Friday, Mitchell scored 59 points but came up short against Harrisburg in a 65-59 contest.

But some of the tough shooting can be attributed to a historically strong defensive effort from Sioux Falls Washington, which showed it was a championship-quality team on the other end of the court.

The Warriors allowed just 34 points per game on the way to their first state title since 2015, including a 43-26 win over Rapid City Stevens in the title game. In the three games, Washington’s opponents — RC Central, O’Gorman and RC Stevens, combined to shoot 18.4% on field goals and made 8 of 50 3-pointers (16%), with the Warriors blocking 17 shots in the tournament.

White River's Caelyn Valandra-Prue (23) is fouled by Castlewood's Darah DeKam (32) going to the basket during the Class B state championship game on Saturday at the Huron Arena. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Valandra-Prue finishes 8th on the all-time scoring list

White River’s Caelyn Valandra-Prue buttoned up her career with a Class B state championship on Saturday. Valandra-Prue scored 23 points in the Tigers’ 57-37 win over Castlewood.

The dynamic scoring guard also finished eighth on the all-time scoring list with 2,536 career points. She finished just behind Pine Ridge’s SuAnne Big Crow (2,541) on the scoring list.

Mitchell Christian’s Jill Young is No. 1 on the girls all-time scoring list with 3,317 career points.

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“Women’s athletics at South Dakota State has always been valued and supported,” SDSU women's basketball coach Aaron Johnston said. “We’re lucky to have people that invest in women’s athletics here.”