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Boys Basketball

Lower Brule turns back Castlewood in overtime

Lower Brule’s Lane Gray, center, moves to the basket as Castlewood’s Tristan Nielsen, left, defends during Thursday night’s game at the South Dakota Class B Boys Basketball Tournament at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 3/17/2022

Regulation just wasn’t enough Thursday night.

Second-seeded Lower Brule survived a monster challenge from No. 7 Castlewood to prevail 51-48 in overtime to advance to the semifinals of the State B Boys’ Basketball State Tournament.

The Sioux forced seven turnovers in the first three minutes of the game and looked poised to run off with the opening round match-up at Wachs Arena. But the Warriors weren’t quite ready to concede that quickly.

Down 8-0 to start, Castlewood stormed back to take a 22-14 lead by the midway point of the second quarter, and the rest of the night turned into a track meet of sorts.

The teams traded buckets, leads, turnovers, runs – essentially, every category of the stat sheet in a game that featured seven ties, six lead changes and a double-digit Castlewood lead in the first half.

“Every game is going to be tough,” said Lower Brule coach Brian LaRoche. “We told (the players) that, and they knew that. We started out hot, and that’s the way we play. Fast. But (Castlewood) showed up to play. Their big guys controlled the ball and defended us at the rim. They’re a very good team.”

After cleaning up its sloppy start, Castlewood settled in for a fight led by Lane Tvedt on the perimeter and 6-foot-7 freshman Bryon Laue in the post.

But for all that, it was senior Tristan Nielsen who provided the clutch highlights for the Warriors. Nielsen finished with 20 points, but none bigger than three free throws with less than half a second remaining in regulation that forced overtime. Nielsen was fouled on a last-second 3-point attempt, sending the 91 percent free-throw shooter to the line under pressure.

“He was feeling pretty good, so I thought, ‘He’s probably going to make them,’ ” said Castlewood coach Mike Thyen of his senior guard. “He didn’t shoot very well from 3-point, but he made a lot of other plays.”

It was not, however, the way Lower Brule drew up its defense on that final possession.

LaRoche made sure that didn’t happen in the extra session.

“I just challenged them to get it back on defense (in overtime),” LaRoche said. “Get that stop. And they did. They got stops, and that’s all, as a coach, I can ask for.”

Castlewood’s Booker Schooley, far left, looks for a teammate as Lower Brule’s Trevin McBride, center and Brian LaRoche Jr., right, close in on a trap during Thursday night’s game at the South Dakota Class B Boys Basketball Tournament at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 3/17/2022

Lower Brule’s Keshaume Thigh finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Sioux, the lone player in double figures.

“We were mad that it even went to overtime,” Thigh said. “This game should never have been that close.”

Lower Brule advances to the semifinals for the first time in three trips to the tournament, all since 2018. The Sioux will face White River in a rematch of a game earlier this season that they won by three points.

“It feels good,” Thigh said. “That was our main goal, to get to the championship game. We’ve still got to get our game going and get past White River. Play better than we played tonight.”

Castlewood will face Freeman Academy-Marion in consolation action at 1:45 this afternoon.

“It’s a tough one,” Thyen said of Thursday’s setback. “We put ourselves in a position to win. We’re a seven seed, they’re the two seed. Our guys did a lot of great things. We’re young, and we had some youth show up a little bit on the big stage, and that’s to be expected. But it was just a tremendous effort from our guys to give us a chance to win. … We took them to overtime. I don’t know what more you can ask. We just came up on the short side.”

CASTLEWOOD (17-7): Tristan Nielsen 8 3-3 20, Lane Tvedt 4 0-0 12, Jackson Schofield 2 0-0 4, Bryon Laue 4 2-2 10, Joe Decker 1 0-0 2. Totals 19-52 5-5 48.

LOWER BRULE (21-3): Lane Gray 3 0-1 7, Brian LaRoche 2 1-3 5, Gavin Thigh 3 2-3 9, Keshaume Thigh 9 2-3 21, Ellwyn Langdeau 2 1-2 5, Trevin McBride 1 0-0 2, Quentin McBride Jr. 1 0-0 2. Totals 21-48 6-12 51.

Castlewood 12 27 39 48 48

Lower Brule 10 23 40 48 51

3-point field goals – Nielsen, Tvedt 4; Gray, G. Thigh, K. Thigh. Total fouls – Castlewood 13; Lower Brule 8. Rebounds – Castlewood 34 (Nielsen 9, Laue 8); Lower Brule 28 (K. Thigh 10). Assists – Castlewood 12 (Nielsen 5); Lower Brule 10 (Gray 3, LaRoche 3). Steals – Castlewood 6; Lower Brule 14 (G. Thigh 4, K. Thigh 3).

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