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Sully Buttes tops Ethan in grinding Class B semifinal

HURON--Familiarity reigned at the Huron Arena on Friday. Two Class B powers--Ethan and Sully Buttes--met in the girls basketball tournament for the third straight season. And like the previous state tournament matchup, the Chargers came away vict...

Ethan's Kacey Bartscher, right, makes a move to the basket against Sully Buttes' Chloe Lamb during the Class B girls basketball tournament on Friday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
Ethan's Kacey Bartscher, right, makes a move to the basket against Sully Buttes' Chloe Lamb during the Class B girls basketball tournament on Friday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Ryan Deal/Republic)

HURON-Familiarity reigned at the Huron Arena on Friday.

Two Class B powers-Ethan and Sully Buttes-met in the girls basketball tournament for the third straight season. And like the previous state tournament matchup, the Chargers came away victorious in another heart-pounding thriller 37-35 in Huron.

The Rustlers lost to the Chargers 33-25 in last year's state title game on the same floor. Ethan defeated Sully Buttes 31-28 in the 2015 title tilt at the venerable arena. This season, the Rustlers nipped the Chargers 59-53 in overtime during the regular season.

Friday's contest was eerily similar with defense being the name of the game. Both teams managed to hit just 10 field goals apiece.

"Knowing how they play and them knowing how we play, people might think that is an advantage," Sully Buttes senior Chloe Lamb said. "That is not always how it goes. Because it can be a standstill a little bit and the scores every time we play definitely show that."

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Lamb hit go-ahead jump shot with 15 seconds left to lift the Chargers into the championship game at 8 p.m. tonight. Sully Buttes (24-1) will play Sanborn Central/Woonsocket in the title game.

"Having the ball in my hands, I just wanted to do something really good for my team," Lamb said. "I am really lucky that went in. Just a lot of practice going into that and knocking it down."

Lamb's jumper broke a 33-33 tie. Ethan (23-2) turned the ball over on the other end and Lamb corralled the loose ball. She hit two free throws with 4 seconds left to ice the win.

"They hit some big shots at the end," Ethan coach Tom Young said. "We couldn't get a stop when we needed it. They hit the big shots at the end. We just came up one possession short."

Lamb's jumper was part of a second-half comeback for the Chargers, who trailed 21-12 at halftime. Ethan held the Chargers to just three made field goals in the first half.

"I knew it was going to be a battle," Sully Buttes coach Mark Senftner said. "They put so many scorers on the floor. You hope you can defend them and at the end of the first half, it didn't look very good."

The Rustlers could not maintain the lead as Sully Buttes charged back. Ethan held a slim 25-23 lead going into the fourth quarter.

"We got in foul trouble early," Young said. "We wanted to play them mainly (man-to-man), but we got a couple girls in foul trouble right away and so we had to adjust things and kind of on the fly."

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Sully Buttes' Rachel Guthmiller knotted it up at 26-26 on an old-fashioned 3-point play. Her jump shot hit off the rim and bounced in. She then hit a 3-pointer to give the Chargers their first lead (29-26) of the game.

"She's been clutch for us," Senftner said. "She played a ton of minutes last year in the championship game and got a couple of big baskets for us and she's always been there and never shined brighter than tonight."

Ethan could never grab the lead back, but tied it up on a Kacey Bartscher 3-pointer at 31-31 after a timeout with one minute left.

"We ran a special play for that," Young said. "She didn't get it right away and she reacted and hit the shot."

Bartscher later tied it again (33-33) after a pair of free throws with 29 ticks left. But Lamb nailed the game-winning shot on the next trip.

Bartscher and Rachel Hawkins led Ethan with 12 points apiece. Ethan will play Warner at 6 p.m. tonight in the third-place game.

"It was such emotional loss right now," Young said. "I don't know how the girls are going to react. I hope they are able to just enjoy and have fun in their last game, especially the seniors."

Sully Buttes 37, Ethan 35

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Ethan (23-2): Rachel Hawkins 4-7 2-2 12, Janae Gustafson 1-4 2-3 4, Karly Gustafson 2-8 2-4 6, Ellie Hohn 0-3 1-2 1, Kacey Bartscher 3-7 4-6 12, Jessica Endres 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Miiller 0-0 0-0 0, Amanda Miiller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-29 11-17 35.

Sully Buttes (24-1): Rachel Guthmiller 3-8 1-1 9, Racquel Wientjes 2-3 6-6 11, Lauren Wittler 1-2 2-2 4, Chloe Lamb 4-13 4-5 12, Brooklynn Bradford 0-0 1-2 1, Kendra Kleven 0-0 0-0 0, Marinda Archer 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 10-29 14-16 37.

E 12 21 25 35

SB 5 12 23 37

3-point field goals: E 4 (Hawkins 2, Bartscher 2); SB 3 (Guthmiller 2, Wientjes 1). Rebounds: 20 (K. Gustafson 7); SB 21 (Guthmiller 5). Assists: E 4 (A. Miiller 2); SB 4 (Wientjes 1, Wittler 1, Lamb 1, Kleven 1). Steals: E 5 (Hohn 2); SB 2 (Lamb 2). Blocked shots: E 0; SB 2 (Guthmiller 1, Wittler 1).

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