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Golden Eagles punch ticket to AA boys’ state tournament

Aberdeen Central’s Alec Voegele, right, tries to get to the basket between Sioux Falls Washington’s Joe Uttecht, center and Eli WIlliams, left, during last Saturday’s game at the Golden Eagles Arena. Voegele scored 16 points in the Golden Eagles' victory over Rapid City Central on Saturday. Photo by John Davis taken 2/27/2021

RAPID CITY – Aberdeen Central rallied from a deficit early, got the stops it needed late and is headed back to the Class AA State Boys’ Basketball Tournament. The Golden Eagles fought off Rapid City Central to claim a 57-52 victory in SoDak 16 action Saturday afternoon.

“We talked about today’s game, there was going to be some ups, there was going to be some downs. How you dealt with those is going to determine if you were going to win the game,” said Central coach Brent Norberg. “I thought when we were down we kept defending and when we were rolling on offense, we kept defending. We were just consistent that way, so we were able to withstand the lows and we were able to ride the highs a little longer.”

The lows came early when the Eagles fell behind by eight points in the opening quarter. Norberg said once his team calmed down, it played much better.

” I thought we played a little nervous early, then once we got that out of our system, we had probably 4-5 turnovers early and we ended up with 11 for the game,” Norberg said. “So after that we played pretty clean.”

The Eagles also dug in on defense, which helped to fuel a 22-10 third-quarter surge.

“I thought end of the second and into the third, I thought we got a better hold on guarding them,” Norberg said. “I thought defensively, we were really good in the third quarter.”

Aberdeen built a 51-38 lead midway through the fourth and it appeared the Eagles were in control. However, the hosts stormed back and had their chances down the stretch.

“We certainly were a little sloppy there,” Norberg said of a few turnovers and quick shots. “But we kept guarding for the most part. We got some big stops.”

Rapid City Central, which had three-point attempts to tie the game on different occasions down the stretch, struggled at the foul line. Meanwhile the Eagles were 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, four free throws from Harrison Reede and two from Alec Voegele.

“The key for us was free throws down the stretch. We made ours, they missed theirs,” Norberg said. “That kind of helps. They make their free throws it’s probably a different deal.”

Voegele finished with 16 points to lead the Eagles. Spencer Barr added 14 and Reede had 11.

Aberdee Central, 11-10 on the season, now heads back to the state tourney for the first time since 2017 when the Eagles finished second.

“It’s exciting. We have a young group. If you ever want to do something special in a tournament you have to get there a few times in a row, so hopefully we can do that now,” Norberg said. “We really wanted to get there this year and now that we’re there we want to do some damage.”

The Eagles will face top-seeded Sioux Falls Washington in the opening round at noon on March 18. It’s a team they just lost to in a close contest in the regular season finale.

“I don’t think we’ll be in awe,” Norberg said about facing the Warriors again. “It will certainly will be a difficult task, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”

ABERDEEN CENTRAL: Noah Behrends 0 1-2 1, Alec Voegele 7 2-4 16, Harrison Reede 3 5-5 11, Sam Rohlfs 4 1-1 9, Aj Hase 2 1-2 6, Spencer Barr 6 0-1 14. Totals fouls 22-52 10-15 57.

RAPID CITY CENTRAL: Josh Krauter 3 0-0 6, Julian Swallow 5 1-3 13, Micah Swallow 11 2-5 24, Kohl Meisman 3 0-0 7, Ayden Prudich 1 0-0 2. Totals 23-57 3-8 52.

Aberdeen Central 9 25 47 57

Rapid City Central 17 28 38 52

3-point field goals – Hase, Barr 2; J. Swallow 2, Meisman. Total fouls – Aberdeen Central 12; Rapid City Central 13. Rebounds – Aberdeen Central 37 (Voegele 7); Rapid City Central 30 (M. Swallow 15). Turnovers – Aberdeen Central 11; Rapid City Central 13. Assists – Aberdeen Central 2; Rapid City Central 11 (J. Swallow 4). Steals – Aberdeen Central 9 (Rohlfs 5); Rapid City Central 2.

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