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Central finishes season with fifth place win over Brandon Valley

Aberdeen Central’s Noah Behrends, right, looks to put up a shot after driving between Sioux Falls Washington’s Tahj Two Bulls, left and Joe Uttecht, center, during a game earlier this season at the Golden Eagles Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 2/27/2021

RAPID CITY – Aberdeen Central capped a solid state tournament with another solid finish Saturday afternoon.

The Golden Eagles made key plays down the stretch for the second straight game and took down Brandon Valley 55-50 in the fifth place game of the Class AA State Boys’ Basketball Tournament in Rapid City.

“I thought we came out here and played our three best basketball games of the year,” said Central Coach Brent Norberg. “That’s what you hope for as a coach is your kids can do that. I’m super happy for them.”

It wasn’t an easy task. While the Eagles led down the stretch, they lost starting point guard Sam Rohlfs to fouls with 2:42 remaining. Brandon Valley tied the score at 48-48 before Harrison Reede made two free throws with 1:34 left. Again, the Lynx tied the game at 50-50 on Payton Tietjen’s putback.

Noah Behrends then gave Central a lead it never lost with two free throws at the 1:01 mark. Central iced the victory when Spencer Barr found Behrends for a layup to make it a two-possession game.

“Spence made a great play at the end when they were trying to foul. He found Noah for a layup that kind of clinched it,” Norberg said. “Harry was solid at the line when we needed to have it. The kids just executed. When you’re getting pressed at the end and your point guard’s out, you just have to give a lot of credit to our kids. They all stepped up. They had to do a little bit of a different role because of that and we were able to do it.”

Central trailed by seven at the half before taking control in the second half. Reede made four three-point field goals to help spur a 21-11 third-quarter surge. Norberg said the biggest difference was his players’ attitudes.

“They took the ball to the basket more. We were more aggressive and kind of played into their pressure instead of kind of trying to go around it and go play away from it,” Norberg said. “We played right at it. We were able to get in the lane and get some shots to go, get some more threes to go, because we started cutting to the basket and driving and that helped.”

Another big key was Central’s efficiency at the charity stripe, where the Eagles made 11 of 13 attempts.

“We made some big ones down the stretch. Noah made some huge ones when the game was one possession or two to keep the lead,” Norberg said. “The thing is, it’s just much easier to play with the lead and we had the lead a lot of the second half and that helped our kids.”

Reede had a game-high 19 points, Behrends followed with 16 and Alec Voegele added 11.

In the end, Central received key contributions from many.

“That’s what these guys have been about the whole tournament. It’s not one or two guys. It’s a group,” Norberg said. “Sam fouls out with two minutes to go. Spence comes in and makes a couple great plays. Alec and Noah were huge, Harry was huge. Aj (Hase) was solid defensively. Jackson (Dorsett) helped us coming off the bench early, Brady (Rohrbach) was good. They all were great. Just so proud of their efforts and what they did today.”

Rohlfs was named to the all-tournament team.

The Eagles finished the season with a 13-11 record.

Norberg said he will remember this season for a long time.

“You know sometimes in life you don’t even realize what you’ve done to deserve the blessings you’ve got. This group has been a blessing to me. They’re phenomenal,” Norberg said. “The most fun I’ve had in a long time. I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the future with them, but I’ll always remeber this year as very special.”

BRANDON VALLEY (16-8): Dawson Johnson 3 0-0 7, Jaksen Deckert 3 4-7 10, Joe Kolbeck 1 0-0 2, Aydin Lloyd 2 0-0 5, Payton Tietjen 5 1-2 11, Jackson Hilton 3 7-10 14, Jay Jurgens 0 1-2 1. Totals 17-52 13-21 50.

ABERDEEN CENTRAL (13-11): Harrison Reede 6 2-2 19, Alec Voegele 3 4-5 11, Noah Behrends 5 4-4 16, Sam Rohlfs 3 0-0 6, Spencer Barr 0 1-2 1, Aj Hase 1 0-0 2. Totals 18-48 11-13 53.

Brandon Valley 15 26 37 50

Aberdeen Central 13 19 40 55

3-point field goals – Johnson, Lloyd, Hilton; Reede 5, Voegele, Behrends 2. Fouled out – Tietjen, Rohlfs. Total fouls – Brandon Valley 16; Aberdeen Central 16. Rebounds – Brandon Valley 36 (Johnson 12, Tietjen 11); Aberdeen Central 30 (Voegele 10). Turnovers – Brandon Valley 9; Aberdeen Central 9. Assists – Brandon Valley 4; Aberdeen Central 8 (Rohlfs 3). Steals – Brandon Valley 3; Aberdeen Central 4.

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