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State tournament notebook: Canistota's Lee shakes off ACL injury

ABERDEEN--Jordan Lee's senior season hasn't gone according to plan, but he's playing in this week's Class B state boys basketball tournament. The Canistota senior has battled an ACL injury all season, but he's playing in this week's tourney at Wa...

Canistota's Jordan Lee, with ball, brings the ball up the court against Lower Brule's Shane Sazue Jr., on Friday at the Class B state boys basketball tournament at Wachs Arena. Canistota's Scott Jolley is in the background. (Ryan Deal / Republic)
Canistota's Jordan Lee, with ball, brings the ball up the court against Lower Brule's Shane Sazue Jr., on Friday at the Class B state boys basketball tournament at Wachs Arena. Canistota's Scott Jolley is in the background. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

ABERDEEN-Jordan Lee's senior season hasn't gone according to plan, but he's playing in this week's Class B state boys basketball tournament.

The Canistota senior has battled an ACL injury all season, but he's playing in this week's tourney at Wachs Arena.

"Not being able to play much your senior year, it's not that fun," Lee said. "But I am just trying to get through it and my teammates are really helping me with it and my coaches are there by me all the time."

Lee tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee during the summer, while playing basketball. He had surgery on Aug. 17 and was out until late January.

Lee, a 6-foot guard, averaged 8.2 points during the remainder of the season. But bad news struck again during the Round of 16 win over Castlewood. He re-injured the knee twice against the Warriors and his status for this week was up in the air.

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"He went to see his surgeon and his surgeon said 'Well I am going to let you play,' and I thought (Thursday) he was real tentative," Canistota coach Pat Jolley said. "(Friday) I thought he was more aggressive and so I was real happy for him."

So is Lee that he's playing in the state tournament.

"I was just hoping I would be able to play at the state tournament," Lee said. "I was just excited when my doctor told me I was able to play. It was really important for me to play in state just because not everyone makes it to the state tournament. It's just really important."

Lower Brule's Honey Badger

Lower Brule's Ben Long Crow has perhaps the state tournament's most unique nickname.

The Lower Brule senior was tagged with the nickname, "Honey Badger," when he was in the seventh grader by his coach D.J. Middletent.

"Whenever I was a seventh grader, I was playing varsity football for the first time and my football coach noticed I wasn't scared to take a hit and I wasn't scared of the bigger defenders," the 5-foot-11 Long Crow said.

The nickname was made famous by NFL defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who stands 5-foot-9 and is known for playing tough defense against bigger opponents.

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"That's kind of where I got it from, just like being short and not being scared of the bigger defenders," Long Crow said.

"I always try to give it my all every time and just play hard and just make sure to not be scared of any bigger defenders," Long Crow added.

It's become a popular nickname around the Lower Brule community and among the elementary students.

"I go read to them sometimes and they just love that name," Long Crow said.

The Honey Badger and the Sioux are playing in their first state tournament in school history this weekend. He's been on the varsity team since his eighth-grade season and has come close to making it to state in recent years.

"We have been knocking on that door for about four years and last year we got beat by Sully Buttes to come to state tournament," Long Crow said. "That kind of just pushed me to get in the gym every day and just go harder so I can finally make my dream come true and I did."

Sully Buttes-White River again

Here we go again.

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Long-time Class B powers-Sully Buttes and White River-met again on Friday.

The Chargers and Tigers played in the Class B state semifinals at Wachs Arena. They used to knock heads in the mid-to-late 2000's and resumed their rivalry last season, with Sully Buttes defeating the Tigers in the first round.

On Friday, they met for eighth time in the last 12 state tournaments.

Here is a look back at their recent state tournament games:

2006: Sully Buttes 83, White River 59 (3rd place)

2007: White River 69, Sully Buttes 64 (3rd place)

2008: White River 76, Sully Buttes 62 (Semifinals)

2009: Sully Buttes 74, White River 73 (Title game)

2011: White River 65, Sully Buttes 45 (Semifinals)

2012: White River 61, Sully Buttes 34 (Semifinals)

2017: Sully Buttes 65, White River 52 (1st round)

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