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TDA girls ready for first state chance

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series previewing area teams ahead of the Class B state girls basketball tournament, which starts Thursday. TRIPP--For the Tripp-Delmont/Armour girls basketball team, last year's region runner-up finish fuel...

Tripp-Delmont/Armour's Mattilynn Reiner (34) puts up a shot against Corsica-Stickney's Raven Barse during the Region 6B tournament on Monday in Yankton. (Ryan Deal / Republic)
Tripp-Delmont/Armour's Mattilynn Reiner (34) puts up a shot against Corsica-Stickney's Raven Barse during the Region 6B tournament on Feb. 26in Yankton. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series previewing area teams ahead of the Class B state girls basketball tournament, which starts Thursday.

TRIPP-For the Tripp-Delmont/Armour girls basketball team, last year's region runner-up finish fueled this year's state tournament berth.

The Nighthawks were edged by Avon in last year's Region 6B championship game and coach Kristi Allen said the loss sparked this year's team. The No. 8 Nighthawks (20-3) play No. 1 seed Faith (23-0) at noon on Thursday in the first round of the State B girls basketball tournament at Wachs Arena in Aberdeen.

"After losing last year in the region (round), I saw a fire in them that I had never seen before and this offseason, they worked so hard and every day in practice, they came focused," Allen said. "They had the ultimate to goal to make it to the state tournament and I am so happy and proud of them that they have that opportunity to play in it."

The Nighthawks returned every player from last year's 17-6 team and that's led to 20 wins this season.

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"I believe we are a true team," Allen said. "We have four girls that average double digits. We can move the ball, play up and down. We try to play fast-paced. We are not very big, but we try to be physical and we really concentrate on rebounding since that's usually one of our weaknesses."

TDA junior guard/forward Mattilynn Reiner powers the balanced Nighthawks. The all-stater averages 14.5 points and 9.3 rebounds

"Matti is a great all-around player and she keeps getting better and better," Allen said. "She's kind of did it all for us this year. She led us in assists and steals and rebounds and points. She really gets everyone involved and really keeps everyone together."

But TDA has three other players-sophomore guard Kianna Payer (12.3 ppg), senior guard Erica Koster (12 ppg) and senior guard Brooklyn Brouwer (10.1 ppg)-that score in double figures.

"That's what makes us pretty tough-is even if someone tries to take away Matti-we have three others that are more than willing to score a lot of points for us or are very capable of it and they recognize that," Allen said. "They know that if (opponents) take Matti away, they are confident enough that they know they need to step up even more."

Freshman Ashlee Gerber comes off the bench and contributes 4.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

"She is our 5-foot-11 big girl and the month of February, I've just really seen her blossom," Allen said. "She is a lot more aggressive. She's got some more confidence and she was huge for us in our Round of 16 game."

The Nighthawks played three state tourney teams-Sully Buttes, Avon and Ethan-during the regular season. They defeated Avon, but lost to Ethan and Sully Buttes.

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"We know that we can compete with everyone who is there," Allen said. "We are the eighth seed. So we don't have any pressure, really, and we are going take on that No. 1-seed and just take it one day at a time."

Related Topics: DELMONTGIRLS BASKETBALL
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