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Top 2021 SD SportScene photos from John Davis

Every year at about this time media outlets reflect on the past year with a look at the top stories and happenings in their area. I will let you in on a little secret: part of the reason they do that is to fix the gap created by the slow news cycle during the holiday season. Also staffs are even more short handed than usual because everyone wants to take the holiday off.

Old habits are hard to break for this former newspaper man, so while there are a few days between sporting events please enjoy this collection of images that I created during the past year. Which by the way was the inaugural year of SD Sportscene.

Each image will include a little information on how the image came about or what it is that I like about the photograph. Consider it a small gift to you.

Happy Holidays!

Nate Scieszinski, of Tabor Post 183, top left, is lifted off the ground by teammate Dustin Honomichl (21) as Kaden Kozak (8), Nolan Carda (behind Kozak) and Kaleb Kubal (20) join in the celebration after Scieszinski drove home the winning run with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh during Monday’s game against Vermillion at the South Dakota American Legion Class B State Tournament at Locke-Karst Field in Groton. Photo by John Davis taken 8/2/2021

Covering state tournaments, like the American Legion Class B baseball tournament in Groton last August, are always a chance to make great photographs. Simply put you get to watch the best athletes giving their all in an attempt to win a title. As long as you pay attention to the action, there are plenty of opportunities to make great photos.

Northern State University’s Wyatt Turnquist, top, takes down University of Mary’s Chandler Mooney during their 149 pound match Thursday night at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 2/11/2021

The nature of wrestling makes it difficult to get both athletes faces in the same frame sometimes. But on occasion it works out that you can see not only faces but also an image with distinct lines and a graphic quality to it like this image from Northern State University wrestling last February. The dramatic lighting only adds to the moment.

Aberdeen Roncalli’s lone senior girls basketball player Elissa Hammrich cut the first piece of the net after the Cavaliers won Saturday night’s Class A championship game in Watertown. Photo by John Davis taken 3/13/2021

Another classic in sports photography is the simple joy of victory. It was easy to see in this image from last March when the Aberdeen Roncalli girls won the Class A Championship and Elissa Hammrich got to cut her piece of the net.

Northern State University’s Dewaylon Ingram, right, pulls in a pass beyond Southwest Minnesota State University’s Jordan White, left, as Ingram went on to score the first touchdown at Dacotah Bank Stadium Saturday. Photo by John Davis taken 9/11/2021

While I really was not in the right position for this image of DeWaylon Ingram making a catch, it might have been better to be on the other end of the field with Ingram running toward me. As it turned out though this frame that includes more than just the players held more significance since this was the first ever touchdown to be scored at the new Dacotah Bank Stadium. The sunlight and the fans on the berm in the background, one of whom was signaling a touchdown, added to the moment in Northern State University history.

Dell Rapids St. Mary’s Ashaun Roach-Valandra (24) passes the ball along the baseline as Viborg-Hurley’s Calvin Rasmussen (behind Roach-Valandra), Gradee Sherman (12) and Carter Gust (1) defend during Saturday’s third place game at the South Dakota Class B boys basketball tournament at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 3/20/2021

Most of the time I use longer lenses to get tight images of the action. But sometimes using a wide angle lens adds to the atmosphere and drama of the moment. Not to mention that sometimes taking in the whole picture gives more perspective on the game, like in this image from the third place game at the Class B boys basketball tournament.

Beresford’s Jake Goblirsch, left and Aberdeen Roncalli’s Phillip Zens, right, go after a pass intended for Zens during Thursday night’s Class 11B Playoff game at Swisher Field. Photo by John Davis taken 10/28/2021

Catching the peak action is what sports photography is all about and it doesn’t get much more peak than when the receiver and defender high point the ball on a football passing play. The clean black background created by the night helped make the action stand out that much more.

A fly balances on the netting during Saturday’s game at the South Dakota American Legion State Class B Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field in Groton. Photo by John Davis taken 7/31/2021

While this image isn’t really sports centric, it was an image I made at the Class B baseball tournament last August. This is a combination of being bored between innings and wanting to see just how well the macro component on my telephoto lens works. I’d say it does the job.

Aberdeen Central’s Jayda Hammer, right, leaps over Brookings’ goal keeper Brooklyn McGuire, bottom left, as McGuire gathered the ball as Hammer charged in on attack during the first half of Tuesday’s first round playoff match at Swisher Field. Photo by John Davis taken 10/5/2021

Sometimes the moment of avoiding the impact can be just as exciting or dramatic as the moment of impact might have been. This is the case in the soccer moment in October between Aberdeen Central’s Jayda Hammer and Brookings’ Brooklyn McGuire. Neither player was hurt and for what some may consider a non-play it has a dramatic flair.

Ipswich’s Madisyn Gellhaus, center, hangs onto teammate Ashlinn Hartwell as they and Gracyn Kadlec, left, recover from the Class B girls race at the South Dakota State Cross Country Meet Saturday at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 1023/2021

I am not, nor have I ever been a runner. This image makes me tired just to look at it since you can see the sheer exhaustion on the runner’s faces. But it also makes my heart warm to think of how much these kids enjoy the sport and support one another as is evident in the embrace.

Players from Dell Rapids St. Mary, left and Potter County, right, react after the Cardinals scored on a two-point conversion to win the Class 9B championship in double overtime Thursday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Photo by John Davis taken 11/11/2021

Again the wide-angle lens helps tell the story as the Dell Rapids St. Mary players celebrate a successful two-point conversion that won the game and the Potter County players walk away empty handed. When covering championship events much of the time the reaction tells way more than the action ever would. Just like the opening credits to ABC’s Wide World of Sports- The agony and the ecstasy of the moment.

Members of the Aberdeen Central boys cross country team stretch under a canopy of fall foliage after competing at the South Dakota State Cross Country Meet Saturday at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 1023/2021

To complete my look back on the year is this moment in nature as the Aberdeen Central boys cross country team cooled down under a canopy of fall foliage after the state meet in Sioux Falls back in October. A single still photo doesn’t really do justice to how pretty Yankton Trail Park was on that day. I only wished they had run along the creek during the meet so I could have made more images of the beautiful leaves.

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